One of my favorite ways to ring in New Year's Eve is with Victorian-inspired "crackers" filled with goodies. Commonly known as "Christmas crackers", these party favors were originally designed to mimic French bon bons and are typically made from cardboard tubes wrapped with festive paper and fringe. Each cracker is filled with an assortment of sweets or small toys that are revealed when the parcel is pulled open.
Victorian crackers were first invented in 1847 by a confectioner named Tom Smith. But it wasn't until 1861 that they became wildly popular when he introduced their characteristic "snap". As the story goes, Mr. Smith was sitting at his crackling fireside when a log popped, sparking a burst of inspiration that gave him the idea to add a snap to his crackers, which he later called "bangs of expectation". And who wouldn't want to start the new year with a bang?
Tom Smith & Co. later expanded their catalog with an impressive array of novelties including a giant cracker that measured over 2 feet long, musical crackers, and even themed crackers for bachelors, spinsters, and married couples!
For Victorians, it was quite a treat to get a Christmas cracker, and what fun it must have been to pop one open and reveal the surprises hidden inside!
To this day, crackers are relatively easy to find in stores, but you can also have fun making your own and filling them with your favorite sweets...or even a few beauty goodies like a lip balm or perfume! They also make fun party favors for birthdays and other celebrations! To make your own, check out this tutorial from Olde English Crackers. Or, purchase these lovely vintage-inspired crackers at Victorian Trading Company: