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BLAST Elementary
George Crum and the Saratoga Chip

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip
Written by Gaylia Taylor

Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Growing up in the 1830's in Saratoga Springs, New York, isn't easy for George Crum. Picked on at school because of the color of his skin, George escapes into his favorite pastimes - hunting and fishing.

Soon George learns to cook too, and as a young man he lands a job as chef at the fancy Moon's Lake House. George loves his work, except for the fussy customers, who are always complaining! One hot day George's patience boils over, and he cooks up a potato dish so unique it changes his life forever.


Open-Ended Questions

These questions can be used during an interactive read aloud to engage student interest.

  • How do you think George feels about school? Have you ever been nervous about school? (page 2)
  • Why did George have little patience for the fussy customers? (page 12)
  • Why does George feel like he's back in 1st grade? (page 16)
  • Why was George so stunned by her reaction? (page 22)
  • Why is it so important to George that everyone is treated with respect? (page 28)

Vocabulary Words

  • Feisty
  • Anxious


Learning by Making Mistakes

Nervous about making mistakes? Don't be! Without mistakes we might not have potato chips, or popsicles, or Frisbees... or many other commonly used inventions. With your students, look at the Eureka: Inventions Created by Accident website ( In small groups, students can create a story about how one of these inventions came to be. First, try brainstorming ideas for a storyline. Next, create an outline. Finally, fill in the details of the story. Encourage your students to act like inventors by being creative and resourceful, taking risks, working hard, and solving problems.

Class Cookbook

George Crum was passionate about cooking. He became famous for the different dishes he created, including the Saratoga Chip, which has an interesting and unusual story. Ask students to bring a favorite recipe to class, along with a story about that recipe. Discuss where these recipes came from; some may have been passed down from generations or recently invented by a family member. Ask students if they eat these recipes during special times of the year or if they have special memories associated with the dishes. Collect these recipes and create a class cookbook along with their stories.



Journal Questions

  • Kate always helped her brother George feel better when he was frustrated or feeling feisty. What are some things you do to cheer up your friends?

Some inventions take a lot of thought while others happen by accident, like the Saratoga Chip. What would you like to invent if you had the opportunity?



Extending Books

The Greatest Potatoes
Written by Penelope Stowell

Illustrated by Sharon Watts


In an effort to serve the perfect fried potato dish to the famous but fussy Cornelius Vanderbilt at the Moon's Lake Lodge House Restaurant in 1853, fry cook George Crum invents the potato chip. Based on true events.


Leon and the Champion Chip
Written by Allen Kurzweil

Illustrated by Bret Bertholf

Employing scientific methods learned in Mr. Sparks's class, fifth-grader Leon competes in a potato chip tasting contest and takes revenge against Lumpkin the bully.




Imaginative Inventions
by Charise Mericle Harper