The history of the Christmas cracker

No Christmas dinner table would be complete without the traditional Christmas cracker, which has been part of British festive celebrations since the Victorian times.

About the Christmas cracker

Every Christmas, millions of people in Britain and other Commonwealth nations pull crackers before beginning their long-awaited Christmas lunch or dinner. Typically, whoever wins the split-second ‘contest’ will receive a novelty gift or a small note containing a joke, which won’t be the best! The winner always receives a paper hat, which is traditionally worn throughout the dinner, depending on how long they can wear it before the paper rips, of course.

Where did it all begin?

The first Christmas cracker was created in the 1840s by Tom Smith, a London-based confectioner who was inspired by the paper-wrapped almond sweets he saw in France. He invented a sweet-filled wrapper that could be pulled apart by two hands, an idea that his three sons developed into an exciting business venture in later years.

How did it evolve over time?

By the late 19th century, the company produced many different themed crackers, from bachelor and spinster-themed versions with false teeth and jewellery gifts, to luxurious crackers for royalty and millionaires, the last of which featured gold and silver.

Often, men would give these crackers to women, and the packages would often include short love poems accompanied with sugared almond bon-bons. Later, in the early 20th century, these poems were replaced by jokes, which continue to be a key theme of Christmas crackers in the 21st century.

A few of the worst Christmas cracker jokes in history

One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that Christmas cracker jokes, by and large, are intentionally bad (the kind that could be easily thought up in just five to ten seconds). Of course, what makes Christmas cracker jokes so funny is the fact that they are so bad! Here are some of our favourites:

Q: What would you sing at a snowman’s birthday party

A: Freeze a jolly good fellow!

Q: What’s the most popular Christmas wine in your household?

A: I don’t like Brussels sprouts!

Q: Why is it getting harder to buy Advent calendars?

A: Because their days are numbered!