How Christmas Crackers Have Evolved
At the turn of the Century the demand for crackers and especially those which celebrated current trends and events, was high. After Tom Smith's death, his three sons set about developing the cracker designs, contents and mottoes. Walter Smith, the youngest son, introduced a topical note to the mottoes which had previously been love verses. The original early Victorian mottoes were mainly love verses such as this one: The sweet crimson rose with its beautiful hue is not half so deep as my passion for you.
Eventually these love verses were replaced by more complicated puzzles and cartoons and finally by the corny jokes and riddles which characterize our crackers today. Special writers were commissioned to compose snappy and relevant maxims with references to every important event or craze of the time. The important events included everything from Greyhounds to Jazz, Frothblowers to Tutankhamen, Persian Art to the Riviera.
Walter also introduced the paper hats, many of which were elaborate and made of the best quality tissue paper on proper hat makers stands. He also toured the world to find new, relevant and unusual ideas for the surprise gifts. Some example of these unusual gifts included bracelets from Bohemia, tiny wooden barrels from America and scarf pins from Saxony. Some contents were also assembled in the factory like the thousands of tiny pill boxes filled with rouge complete with powder puff.
The Tom Smith factory was now able to fulfil special orders for both companies and individuals. Records show an order for a six foot cracker to decorate Euston Station in London. In 1927, a gentleman wrote the Company enclosing a diamond engagement ring and a 10 shilling note as payment for the ring to be put in a special cracker for his fiance´e. Unfortunately, he did not enclose an address and never contacted the Company again.