The Oxford English Dictionary records the use of cracker bonbons and the pulling of crackers from the early 1840s. Tradition tells of how Tom Smith of London invented crackers in 1847. He created the crackers as a development of his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper (the origins of the traditional sweet-wrapper). As sales of bon-bons slumped, Smith began to come up with new promotional ideas. As most of his sweets were bought by men to give to women, his first tactic was to insert “love messages” into the wrappers of the sweets
Smith added the “crackle” element when he heard the crackle of a log he had just put on a fire. The size of the paper wrapper had to be increased to incorporate the banger mechanism, and the sweet itself was eventually dropped, to be replaced by a trinket, fans, jewellery and other substantial items. The new product was initially marketed as the Cosaque (i.e., Cossack), but the onomatopoeic “cracker” soon became the commonly used name as rival varieties came on the market. The other elements of the modern cracker—the gifts, paper hats and varied designs—were all introduced by Tom Smith’s son, Walter Smith, to differentiate his product from the rival cracker manufacturers which had suddenly sprung up. As the demand for crackers increased, Tom Smith merged with Caley Crackers in 1953 taking over their headquarters and factory in Norwich, East Anglia.
The longest Christmas cracker pulling chain consists of 749 people and was achieved by Brindleyplace in Birmingham, West Midlands, UK, on 11 December 2013
1 Christmas Cracker Wikipedia page accessed online 21 December 2015 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_cracker