The Origins of the Christmas cracker dates back to 1847 when Tom Smith, a successful sweets baker, was visiting Paris in search of new ideas. While there, he discovered the 'bon bon' a sugared almond wrapped in a twist of tissue paper. When he returned to London, he started to sell sweets like that and included a small moto or joke in with the sweet. They didn't sell very well though.
Legend says that, one night, while sitting in front of his log fire, the sparks and cracks of the fire burning gave him the idea to include a snap which would crack when the wrap on the sweets was pulled in half.
Crackers were originally called 'cosaques' and were thought to be named after the 'Cossak' soldiers who had a reputation for riding on their horses and firing their guns into the air.
Tom's son, Walter, first introduced hats into the crackers and traveled the world seeking new ideas for gifts to put into the crackers.
The company made a range of 'themed' crackers. There were ones for bachelors, where the gifts were things like false teeth and wedding rings and crackers for the Suffragettes, war heroes and even Charlie Chaplain! Crackers were also made for special occasions like coronations. The tradition is still carried on today by The British Royal Family who has special crackers made just for them.
One line of crackers called 'millionaire's Crackers' were very expensive and contained a solid silver box with a piece of gold and silver jewellery inside it. Can you imagine the cost of that cracker today?!