Modern Australian

When pulling a Christmas Cracker, You Should Really Know Why You’re Doing It

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Most people who celebrate Christmas will have pulled a Christmas cracker with their families over a Christmas meal before, trying to grab the biggest part so that they win the game of ‘tug of war’ that it entails but few probably know the origin and history of how the ‘activity’ came to be. When you stop to think about, what it consists of it’s an interesting subject to learn about;

Firstly, you must understand what it’s all about

You must have asked yourself before, why are there terrible jokes inside, a prize of some kind, a paper crown for the ‘winner’ to wear and why are crackers so popular? At Christmas time you can find signs saying things like order Christmas bon bons here everywhere! Well, either way you could find that, learning everything you need to know about Christmas crackers gives you an edge when it comes to Christmas dinner table chit chat and banter.

Starting with the very basics for those that know very little; As mentioned above a Christmas cracker usually includes a paper hat, a bad (cheesy) joke, and a little present, the quality of which tends to be determined by the price of the cracker.

Crackers are also known as ‘Christmas Bon Bon’s’ which come in various sizes, colours and overall quality. There is a big difference between the cheaper crackers and the more expensive type, the difference could be vast, for example, you could get a cheap plastic dice that give the same result each time it’s thrown or, a carefully crafted piece of glassware or something like silverware

Where did they come from - 1846?

Thomas Smith, a British confectioner, introduced Christmas crackers in 1846 when he was on a vacation to Paris, he came across a bob-bon, which is essentially a sugar almond wrapped in tissue paper with a twist on either side of the bon-bon. Inspired by the science behind the idea, Thomas believed it would be a festive way to consume sweets, so he made more confectionery in the same style in the run-up to Christmas Thomas' Christmas bon-bons were a hit, which inspired his next big idea.

Because these Christmas bonbons were primarily purchased by men for their partners to unwrap, Thomas then came up with the idea of including romantic poems wrapped around the candy in the early 1850. They were designed to be cute and affectionate, adding something a little extra to the overall occasion.

Research and Development in - 1860

Thomas was later inspired by the crackling of his fireplace logs whilst on his Christmas holiday, and, in around 1860, he thought that his crackers needed a further surprise, a bang! He added two strips of chemically impregnated paper that, when pulled apart, generates a loud noise, the exact same method is used today, although the lower end crackers sometimes have a tendency not just ‘pull apart’ leaving you with one long strip that absolutely has to be pulled apart.

How did they get their name, and what happened to the romance?

Christmas crackers were originally called casques, but they were swiftly nicknamed ‘crackers’ after the cracking sound they made, when pulled was introduced. Christmas Cracker Jokes are a fun way to pass the time over the holidays and, because they were so awfully good, by the end of the 1930’s all romantic type poems were now really bad ‘cheesy jokes.

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