Smith’s Salt ‘n’ Shake Crisps! Could there ever be a more British idea for a packet of crisps? The crisps that you salt yourself.
OK, at the end of the day all they were was regular old salted crisps, but there was something strangely compelling about opening a packet, rummaging around inside for the little blue sachet of salt, sprinkling said salt over the crisps, then holding the packet closed at the neck and furiously shaking it about in the hope that the salt might just reach the crisps at the bottom of the packet. It was just fun!
The brand was first launched in the 1920′s, making them one of the UK’s oldest types of crisps. They were apparently invented by Frank Smith and sold to pubs in the Cricklewood area of London. Prior to the invention of the “little blue bag of salt”, Smith had provided salt cellars for people to salt their crisps with, but the sachet came into existence simply because people were using too much salt and the cellars were emptied too quickly.
The little blue bag unsurprisingly became the identifier for these crisps, eventually being turned into a little character who appeared on the packets. Strangely he was square in shape, whilst the sachets were rectangular.
I have two very vivid memories of these crisps from my childhood. The first was the day we bought a packet of Salt ‘n’ Shake and found no less than six little blue bags of salt. I needed a drink after finishing that packet I can tell you.
The second memory was of a short lived attempt to expand the brand with the introduction of Flavour ‘n’ Shake crisps. As you can probably guess in these instances the little sachets contained flavourings of different types, although if I remember correctly they were only standard flavours like Cheese and Onion or Salt and Vinegar. I think the sachets may have been different colours depending on the flavour, but I don’t remember for sure.
The brand did disappear for a time, probably sometime during the Nineties, but they were brought back in 2003 by Walkers, who now own all the Smiths Crisps brands. Whilst it’s good to see them back on shop shelves, they do now go under the name of Walkers Formerly Smiths Salt & Shake Crisps, which is both a bit of a mouthful and has dropped the old abbreviated ‘n’ for a boring old ampersand…