Christmas cracker, Tom Smith & Company, 1927, UK.
Museum no. S.96-2007. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Totem Cracker
By the 1920s, Tom Smith's crackers were advertised as "World Renowned Christmas Crackers. No party complete without them". One eye-catching example in our collection is the Totem Cracker, made in 1927 by Tom Smith & Company and originally sold in boxes of 12 – in crimson, green and gold. Their name refers to a spectacular dance number, the 'Totem Tom-Tom', from the musical Rose-Marie, which opened at London's Drury Lane Theatre in 1925 and was a West End hit. Set in the Canadian Rockies, it featured a chorus of over 50 'Totem-Pole Girls', clad in colourful outfits and elaborate headdresses resembling carved animal heads.
The Totem Crackers embodied the decadent frivolity of the flapper-era musical. Combining orange cellophane over gold foil with a central sticker depicting the Totem-Pole Girl, they came complete with Totem-Pole Girl headdresses, musical toys, imitation jewellery and 'quips and jokes', and were sold for 34 shillings. Paper patterns inspired by the dancers' costumes decorate the ends, with fringed gold paper and the maker’s name finishing off the ensemble.