Classic, everyday potato chips are made by frying, drying and salting ultra-thin slices of potato (some companies also make more healthful chips that are baked or use less oil and salt).
As with most junk foods, potato chips have an interesting history. This snack was invented by accident in 1853, when a chef in a new York restaurant had trouble making french fries (chick-sliced slivers of potato fried in oil). As the story goes, a particularly troublesome guest kept sending back his order of fries, saying they weren’t done right. The chef retaliated by cutting the potatoes so thin, and frying them so crisp, that they couldn’t be eaten with a fork –and to his astonishment, the guest liked them!
Potato chips became a national obsession in the 1920’s, thanks to two important developments; first, the invention of the mechanical potato peeler eliminated the laborious process of thin-salesman named Herman Lay peddled his chips out of the trunk of his car, establishing a brand name that has survived to the present day.