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Christmas cracker


Christmas cracker

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Christmas crackers, known as bon-bons in Australia, are an integral part of British Christmas celebrations. It consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip (similar to that used in a cap gun).

The person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat or crown; a small toy or other trinket; and a motto, a joke or piece of trivia on a scrap of paper. Crackers are often pulled after Christmas dinner or at parties.

Assembled crackers are typically sold in boxes of three to twelve. These typically have different designs usually with red, green and gold colours. Making crackers from scratch using the tubes from used toilet rolls and tissue paper is a common activity for children.

It is a running joke that all the jokes and mottos in crackers are unfunny and unmemorable. Similarly, in most standard commercial products, the "gift" is equally awful, although wealthier individuals—notably, the royal family—may use custom crackers with more expensive rewards.


Crackers were invented by London confectioner Tom Smith, in 1847, as a development of his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper (the origins of the traditional sweet-wrapper). As sales of bon bons slumped, Smith began to come up with new promotional ideas. His first tactic was to insert mottos into the wrappers of the sweets (cf. Fortune cookies), but this had only limited success.

He was inspired to add the "crackle" element when he heard the crackle of a log he'd just put on the fire. The size of the plastic wrapper had to be increased to incorporate the banger mechanism, and the sweet itself was eventually dropped, to be replaced by a small gift. The new product was initially marketed as the Cosaque (i.e., Cossack), but the onomatopoeic "cracker" soon became the commonly used name, as rival varieties were introduced to the market.

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Christmas Guide, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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