Entitled “Snap! Towards the cultural history of a snack,” the exhibit at the Hamaland museum in Vreden, northwest Germany showcases the 2,000 bag collection of local resident Bernd Schikora.
“Crisps are a snack whose history hasn’t really been explored,” museum director Annette Menke said.
The collection includes examples from Europe, the United States and Asia, part of an industry with global sales of $16.4 billion (€10.4 billion) in 2005 according to market research firm Datamonitor.
“Their packaging over the years clearly shows trends in marketing strategy,” Menke said.
Although crisps were first invented in the United States in 1853 – where they are known as chips – Germans were only introduced to the snack after World War II when US soldiers arrived in Germany.
One part of the exhibit, which runs until June 1, includes a replica of a typical west German living room circa 1954, when the first round crisps were introduced, and when West Germany won the football World Cup. The Guinness Book of Records says it is the biggest collection in the world.