Wednesday, 16 December 2015
The closest most people today would recognise as bon-bons are sugared almonds. They were sold in little twists of paper and designed to be eaten at festive times.
Thomas came back to Britain and tried to sell similar sweeties in the UK. In 1847 he launched a line of sugared almonds, wrapped in paper twists that contained a love motto.
They didn't sell too well, so in the next couple of years Thomas came up with the idea of making them more exciting by including a small explosive mechanism that would make an exciting 'bang' as the sweet was opened, and the Christmas Cracker was born.
Over the next couple of years the shape changed, and in 1850 the sweet disappeared to make way for toys, trinkets and jewellery. By 1860 the cracker as we know it today was more or less in place.
Thomas died in 1880 and his three sons, Tom, Walter and Henry took over the business. They introduced the now traditional paper hat.
The Tom Smith cracker company continued under various royal warrants until 2005, when it was taken over by International Greetings. But crackers bearing the Tom Smith name are still sold throughout the UK.
*Remember The Good Life Christmas special when Margot insisted on shouting 'crack' rather than 'bang' when they pulled the home-made crackers?