The Christmas Cracker is almost as traditional as holly, mistletoe and eating too many mince pies. When did they first appear at our dining tables and what are your favourite jokes?
Little could Tom Smith have imagined, when he invented the cracker in 1847, that it would become such an integral part of British celebration and tradition, let alone an industry worth £120m a year.
In 1840 Tom Smith, a baker and confectioner from Clerkenwell in East London, came across the "bon bon" - a sugared almond wrapped in a twist of tissue paper - on a trip to Paris. He decided to sell the bon bon from his shop and boosted sales by hitting on the ingenious idea of including a small love motto in the tissue paper. It was the crackle of a log as he threw it on the fire that inspired him to develop a "pop" caused by friction when the wrapping was broken and ultimately resulted in the cracker we would recognise today.
It was Walter Smith, Tom's youngest son, who introduced paper hats and toured the world to find novelty items to include such as bracelets from Bohemia and scarf pins from Saxony. He also replaced the love motto with a topical note. I wonder what he would have made of the jokes included today? Here are 10 of my favourites:
Who says "Oh, Oh, Oh?" Santa walking backwards!
What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby? Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!
What's furry and minty? A polo bear!
Why can't Santa go down chimneys this year? It is against Elf and Safety rules!
Who delivers Christmas presents to cats? Santa Paws!
What's round and bad tempered? A vicious circle!
Where do frogs go if they have bad eyesight? The hoptomotrist!
Why did the moth nibble a hole in the carpet? It wanted to see the floor show!
What did the fish say when it swam into a wall? Dam!
What's white and goes up? A confused snowflake!
Why not give us a laugh on a cold Monday morning by sharing the ones that make you groan.
Written by Mike Gamble: Director JEM Retail Consultants.