• It’s that time of year to roll out tired puns
  • The tradition of the Christmas Joke started in 1847
  • What do you think the worst Christmas Joke is?

Tradition tells that back in 1847 Londoner Tom Smith invented Christmas crackers as an extension of his bonbon sweets, which were individually wrapped with a ‘love message’ motto. The ‘crackers’ (as they became known following the inclusion of a ‘snap’ when pulling apart) continued to include the motto, which in time became a riddle or corny joke. Tom Smith are the world’s best known producer of Christmas crackers and even have a memorial fountain dedicated to them in Finsbury Square, London.

So what is the appeal of the cracker joke and how do they work?

Invariably they are in the form of a short question and witty answer (there’s not much room on that small slip of paper to tell a long tale). They frequently rely on puns, double entendres or wordplay, and fun can be derived from furiously trying to remember the punchline – ‘Don’t tell me, I know this one!’ – or trying to work it out from the scant clue you’ve been given in the opening line.

‘Some of the best cracker jokes have a Christmas theme – cue hilarity about Santa, elves, snowmen and snow balls.’

And why do we groan when we hear the answer? Maybe it’s because the word abuse is so extreme (trying to rhyme one word with another when it really shouldn’t) or because the answer is so obvious that we’re kicking ourselves for not getting it. Perhaps we’re also more forgiving and relaxed when we share these gags – after a hearty meal they’re a bit of light relief when intellectual conversation is not on the menu.

We decided to try a selection of mid-range crackers from popular high street supermarkets and see just how bad this year’s offerings are. Here’s what we found.

Q: What did the coral do on January 1st?
A: Turned over a new reef

Q:What do you call an elephant that flies?
A: A jumbo jet

Q: What do they sing at a snowman's birthday party?
A: Freeze a jolly good fellow

Q: What happened to the man who stole an Advent Calendar?
A: He got 24 days

Q: Why would you invite a mushroom to a Christmas party? 
A: He's a fun guy to be with.

Q: Why was Santa's little helper feeling depressed? 
A: He had low elf-esteem.

Q: What's furry and minty?
A: A polo bear.

Can you do better? Share your favourite Christmas cracker joke with us or post it on Twitter (using #LVCrackerJoke), the more groanworthy the better.