This week, whilst preparing our new website for the updated 2016 products, we had a rifle through our back catalogues to see how our 2016 lists compare with our historical ones. To our surprise, there was one historical product that brought to mind a VERY modern counterpart – our selfie crackers!

In 2016 selfies are just another part of everyday life. In 2014 the word was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary although Oxford had declared it their ‘Word Of The Year’ a year earlier when it’s use in English language had increased by a whopping 17,000 percent! The actual origin of the word is still a fairly young one. Traced back to 2002 on an Australian online forum, selfie started gaining widespread momentum in 2012 where it coincided with the release of the now hugely popular Social Networking site, Instagram.

 “A photographic self-portrait; esp. one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.”


Every year our designers work well in advance of Christmas to predict the coming design, product and colour trends ready for the Christmas period and recently we added our now famed ‘selfie’ crackers to that list. To help you take that perfect Christmas candid, each cracker has a fun prop included as a prize. The crackers come as a box of six so the whole family can get involved with everything from a fake moustache, reindeer antlers and a santa hat as well as our customary paper crowns!

The crackers have proved very popular year on year since we introduced them but little did we realise that way back in the early part of the 20th century, our predecessors at Tom Smith were already making modern crackers with some very clear similarities. We found this fantastic image of a cracker set from 1906 which was entitled ‘masks and hats’. Using the very Victorian concept of a masquerade, the crackers allowed the bearers to don a humorous hat or mask from their cracker on Christmas Day.


Hats & Masks, Caps & Bonnets from a Tom Smith range 110 years ago

In Queen Victoria’s time masquerades were commonly encouraged as private parties and events as a throwback to Venetian carnivals. Often due to the elaborate nature of costumes and masks, the wearers would also pose for portraits. In 2012 the National Portrait Gallery had an exhibition of these images for the public to see.


Playing Dress-Up