Saratoga is known for its “Health, History, and Horses”… the spring water, the turning point of the revolutionary war, and thoroughbred racing are just some of those examples. But did you know that because of Saratoga Springs we also have these ten things:
The Potato Chip: Many people know the story of the potato chip. In 1853, George Crum, the cook at Moons Lake House sliced potatoes paper thin, salted, and fried them to spite an ornery customer. The customer tasted the chips, declared they were delicious, and ordered another serving. Word spread and others came to try Crum’s Saratoga Chips. Their popularity grew and Crum opened his own establishment featuring the chip. The potato chip became a northern food until a traveling salesman from the south spread the snack. Now a staple in every grocery store, convenience store, and many people’s lunches! (Learn more here) Hungry for chips? Get your Saratoga Chips Here!
The Club Sandwich: Another yummy invention, the Club Sandwich, was created in the Saratoga Clubhouse, now known as the Canfield Casino. The sandwich was a feature on the menu of Richard Canfield’s Casino in the 1890s. The first published recipe for the Club Sandwich was in the Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book in 1903. Though there is less evidence of this originating here we believe there is no better place for it to have been created! Plus pair the Club Sandwich with Saratoga Chips and you’ve got one of the best lunches out there! (Learn more here and here)
The Peppermint Pig: While we are on the subject…. We have a salty, a savory, and now a sweet! The Peppermint Pig is a holiday tradition that is steadily becoming nationally known. Dating back to when Saratoga Springs was a quaint Victorian village and small candy makers were located on Broadway. The pink pig would be cracked during the holiday season when the family gathered together and it would bring prosperity, good health, and happiness in the coming year. As the old time candy shops closed the tradition became a thing of the past, a memory of the “good old days”. Brought back a few decades ago by Saratoga Sweets, the pig is still made once a year and sold at shops throughout Saratoga Springs, including Impressions of Saratoga. (Learn more here)
The Casino Chip: This is an unconfirmed invention, where there is little documentation of the origins… but again, we like to believe the Saratoga legends we have heard! Supposedly Richard Canfield, a true innovator and businessman, started using casino chips in his Clubhouse long before Las Vegas was even a thought. Canfield wanted his guests, all men, to feel comfortable bringing large sums of money into his establishment, and in those days that usually meant bags of coins and large paper certificates. The men did not want to carry these bulky bags around with them while they played. So Canfield would convert the money into casino chips with designated amounts on them.
The Liquor Serving Table: With gambling and all of this food one would need a beverage! Caleb Mitchell, a former village president, gambling house owner, and hotel operator was also a clever inventor. His invention kept beer cool for the patrons of his gambling house. The Refrigerator Bottle Rack, as he called it, was patented in 1880. The patent states that keeping the ice away from the bottles allows them to “… always [be] very neat and clean, and their contents agreeably cold.” Though it would seem that Mitchell was a success he lived a life full of heartache and drama. He planned on killing Senator Brackett after a dispute but when Mitchell went to Brakett’s office in City Hall he found it empty… discouraged, he then took his own life in 1902. (Learn more here)
Standard Time: “Time Spent in Saratoga is Never Wasted”, we all know that… however, Charles Dowd, a Saratoga Springs resident, made sure that time was not wasted elsewhere too! Back when train travel was prevalent each railroad had its own time system and local times were determined locally by the sun position. Dowd came up with the concept of “hour sections”, where longitude lines 15 degrees apart would divide America into four sections. These sections would have a designated time one hour behind the time to the right of it. Keeping trains on time, people arriving when they were supposed to, and reducing collisions. Ironically and tragically, Dowd was killed by a train in 1904 when crossing the street. He was in the process of coming up with international time zones at the time of his death. (Learn more here)
The Cook Auger: After observing the way a beetle used its jaws to burrow Ransom Cook, a local furniture maker, created an auger (drill) bit that would enlarge holes more easily. He was a jack of many trades, patenting a cannon, improvements to scissors, railcar ventilation systems, and a lunchbox. Cook is credited with being the originator of furniture stenciling as well. But he is most known for the auger he invented over 150 years ago that is still used today. (Learn more here or here)
Multiple Bottling Apparatuses: Known for its springs, it makes sense that Saratoga has had an impact on the bottling industry. There are many minor and major improvement patents that can be found relating to bottling. One of the most interesting was by Albert Lawrence, owner of the Excelsior Spring, who came up with an apparatus that kept the waters from losing their carbonation causing sediment to form while traveling. This patent was cited in new patents filed in 1966 and 1975. Julius Formel used the springs for their carbonation in other beverages like soda and beer. He created an apparatus for carbonating fermented beverages using the natural spring water in 1895. The process he came up with kept water fresh and purified the gases. You can see some of the technology used to bottle water on the Saratoga Automobile Museum’s website.
The Saratoga Mineral Water Style Bottle: This squat bottle was used until the late 19th century. Many were made with a darker glass that kept the water and minerals fresher. The lip on the top of the bottle allowed the cork to be wired down and carbonation in. This type of bottle top is called “Mineral Style” which was probably coined by the use of this style with the Saratoga Springs mineral water. These bottles were replicated in San Francisco, California to bottle their “Pacific Congress Water Springs Saratoga”. The spring was named for its similarities to the real Congress Spring in Saratoga Springs. Putting it in a similar bottle with a similar name must have helped sales! Take a deeper look at these bottles here.
The Refrigerated Casket: Originally patented as the “Corpse Cooler” the refrigerated casket was designed and patented by Ebenezer Holmes in 1878. One of the first people to be put in the “corpse cooler” was Ulysses S Grant, who died in 1885. The casket was an oak framed table on a wicker platform with a lead receptacle to hold ice. Holmes and his business Holmes & Co. were located on Church Street at the time and had an apprentice William Burke. Burke and Holmes were partners until 1893 when Burke opened William J. Burke & Sons, a funeral home, which is still in existence today! They still have the log of Grant’s embalmment and some of the pieces of the prototype. (Learn more here)
These are just a few neat things that originated here in Saratoga Springs. You can see more inventions from around the area here!
Here we see Caleb Mitchell and George Crum, two of our inventors mentioned in this article!