Tuesday, 16 December 1997

Christmas Websites

Absolutely Crackers Ltd http://www.absolutelycrackers.com/ Inspired by a sugared almond wrapped in tissue paper, confectioner Tom Smith invented the first Christmas cracker in 1847. The company he started is now the world's leading manufacturer, and this fascinating history of the device includes the use of cracker "snaps" to simulate machine- gun fire for troop training in the Second World War, and the special set still made each year for the Royal Family - style and contents a closely guarded secret. In the US, though, a cracker is something you eat with chilli, or a term of racial abuse, so this site aims to recruit more Americans to the habit of mottoes, bad jokes and silly hats.

Independent 16th Decemeber 1997

Wednesday, 10 December 1997

Online crackers for Christmas

Keith Langford doesn't mind if people call him Absolutely Crackers, for that is the name of the company he has set up to sell them all over the world via the net (Nicholas Booth writes).

But be warned: a cracker isn't just for Christmas, it could be there for every aspect of your life. And Langford's Web site at http://www.absolutelycrackers.com will tell you everything you ever need to know about luxury crackers, party and theme ones, catering crackers, and deluxe wedding crackers. By offering such a service, Langford says he hopes "to revolutionise crackers for the new millennium".

Crackers have come a long way since they were invented in 1847 by Tom Smith. Coincidentally, Absolutely Crackers distributes the Famous Tom Smith brand to both the US and Britain. Yet the Christmas favourites are not so well known in the US. Even the most cursory Web search reveals that most sites connected with "crackers" refer to biscuits.

According to Langford, crackers are only available from major stores such as Macy's in the larger cities. "There is a vast untapped market in the States," he says. "There are many gift shops which would probably want to sell them, as well as less well-known chains. The net is the best way to reach these shops."

He hopes to get crackers out of the niche market in the US, where sales are restricted to "boutique" sites such as Oldenglishcrackers which sells exclusive, hand-made crackers made from satin and silk. Langford himself has registered the site with the .com address with the American market in mind.

Published in The Times (UK)
10th December 1997