A Brief History Victorian “Cracker”

The first illustration of a Christmas cracker appeared in The Illustrated London News in 1847, but there is some argument as to who invented them. Two London sweet makers, Tom Smith, and James Hovell, both claim to have invented the cracker. In 1840s Paris, sweets called “bon-bons” were wrapped in twists of brightly colored paper. Tom Smith (or James Hovell) brought back the idea but added a little slip of paper with a message on it, called “kiss mottoes.” Later, other attractions were added, such as little paper hats, tokens and small toys, plus the “crack.” It is said that Tom (or James) was sitting in front of his Christmas fire where the yule logs were crackling, which gave him the idea of putting a cracker strip inside his bon-bons. The crackers were also made to look like tiny yule logs, as they still do today.

Victorian Christmas “Cracker” How To

Christmas Cracker


  • 1 toilet tissue roll
  • snapper (available at craft stores)
  • any small favours you wish to add
  • an 8 x 10″ piece of crepe paper
  • 2 pieces of 8 x 5″ crepe paper
  • decorative trimmings
  • glue
  • transparent tape
  • decorative string
  1. Centre the toilet tissue roll lengthwise along the 10″ side of the 8 x 10″ piece of crepe paper. Wrap the crepe paper around the roll, securing it with 1 or 2 pieces of transparent tape. (The tape can be attached to the underside of the crepe paper so that it does not show.)
  2. Insert snapper and favours (e.g. paper party hats, candies, nuts, riddles, trinkets, etc.) into the roll. The ends of the snapper should extend beyond the ends of the cracker.
  3. Tie each end of cracker with string.
  4. To make fringe, take an 8 x 5″ piece of crepe paper and fold in half lengthwise. Cut 1″ deep slashes about _” apart along unfolded edges. Repeat with second piece of 8 x 5″ crepe paper. cc5.jpg (5342 bytes)
  5. Take about 12″ of decorative string (gold, silver, etc.) and place along inside fold of fringe. Gather and tie around end of cracker, over first tie. Repeat with other end, using second fringe. Ends of fringes may be curled gently.
  6. Decorative trims, lace, ribbons, glitter, etc. may be used to decorate the body of the cracker.