The Christmas Cracker has been around since it was invented by Tom Smith in England during the 1840's.
You may not be familiar with the traditional Christmas treat, but if you have family or friends from the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand, you probably grew up with these holiday surprises.
In the 1840's Tom Smith, a baker and confectioner, took his family on a trip to France. That is where he first saw Bon Bons, a chocolate covered nut, wrapped in pretty papers.
He took this idea home, stuck a love note in them and sold them as chocolates for the ladies. With competition quick on his heals, Smith soon created what we now know as the Christmas Cracker.
Originally called "Cosasques" from the sounds of the cossack's whips as they rode through Paris during the Franco-Prussian wars, the "Crackers" now include jokes, small toys, bubbles, confetti, and other treats.
The original ones have a strip that create a "snap" sound that emulates the sound of a crackling fire. If you would like to make your own Christmas crackers with a "crack," check out christmas-crackers-usa.com. The strips are $4.95 for a bundle of 25.
There aren't many local stores that carry the cracker strips, so Internet or catalog-ordering is your only alternative.
I made my Christmas crackers without a snap strip. This is the easiest way to make them.
Most of the items you may recycle from the wrapping you are doing for the holidays.
For the cover paper, you may use any heavy paper that is large enough to wrap around three toilet paper tubes. I re-used the wrapping paper tube and the extra pieces of wrapping paper left over.
For the treats inside, you may make your own chocolates, or pour in a few candy canes and little trinkets left over from birthday parties.
Once you cut, tape, fill and tie your Christmas cracker, try making them for other holidays, New Years, birthdays and baby showers. They make great placeholders for your holiday table as well.
Just pull on the ends and enjoy the surprises that pop out.