Revealed in a 2015 survey as being the number one Irish foodstuff that expats miss the most after moving abroad, Tayto crisps are a national institution. But many don’t realise they also have global significance, having been the world’s first ever seasoned potato chip. Here is a look at how the humble cheese and onion crisp became a national treasure and one of the top five biggest-selling brands in Ireland.
The original Tayto crisp factory was founded in 1954 in Dublin by a local man known as Joe ‘Spud’ Murphy, who is credited with having invented the world’s first ever seasoned crisp. According to his 2001 obituary in The Telegraph, Murphy was nothing if not a shrewd entrepreneur. Having left school at 16, he spent his youth developing a keen instinct for business, becoming the first person to introduce several products to the Irish market – importing everything from British Ribena soft drinks to ball-point pens into the country.
Murphy soon turned his attention towards developing his own brand, launching the Tayto crisp company when he was just 31. Along with an employee by the name of Seamus Burke, he pioneered the technology of seasoning potato crisps during the manufacturing process – a breakthrough which had companies across the globe rushing to buy the rights to use the same method. The sales of their three initial flavours – cheese and onion, salt and vinegar, smokey bacon – were so high that the company had expanded exponentially by the early 1960s.
The Tayto crisp company – which got its name from Joe’s son Joseph Murphy’s childhood pronunciation of the word ‘potato’ – became remarkably successful through a combination of innovation and clever marketing. So visible was their pork-pie-hat-wearing potato mascot Mr. Tayto that ‘Tayto’ began to be used as an equivalent word for crisps of any kind in parts of Ireland – a true mark of accomplished brand recognition.
Throughout the decades since, Mr. Tayto has only become more iconic. In 2007, the company’s advertising team ran a campaign centring on Mr. Tayto as a supposed candidate in the Irish General Election. Two years later, they published his fictional autobiography – The Man Inside the Jacket – and in 2010, Tayto opened its own theme park in County Meath. Home to Ireland’s only large roller coaster, Tayto Park was the country’s sixth most popular fee-charging attraction in 2015.
In 2016, Tayto was the fifth best-selling brand in Ireland, and it continues to reach markets far afield – investment banker Rosa Chan has even begun selling the crisps in Hong Kong, with much success.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.