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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 December, 2003, 17:05 GMT
Snapping up a prize cracker
Family at Christmas
Some crackers need more muscle power than others
Scientists have come up with a formula for the perfect way to pull a Christmas cracker.

Following hard on the heels of equations for the best way to butter toast and cook turkey, researchers at QinetiQ claim they have produced the best snap.

They say that by keeping a firm, two-handed grip, the puller can prevent the cracker being torn at their end.

The key is a "steady, evenly distributed pull" and using too much "twisting force" should be avoided.

"We tried hundreds of cracker-pulling variations," said scientist Alex Bunting.

Open in new window : Make a cracker
A step by step guide to make your own cracker

"There are several key factors that can influence the outcome in one person's favour, most important of which is a steady, evenly distributed pull applied via a firm two-handed grip, without undue stress or yanking."

QinetiQ, a science and development company spun off from the UK's Ministry of Defence, found seven factors to maximise "peak force":

  • Tilting your end of the cracker downwards at an inclined angle during the pull
  • A firm, two-handed grip to prevent the cracker being torn
  • A steady and controlled pull
  • The distance to the centre of gravity of the cracker
  • The length of the cracker
  • Good quality and strong materials used in construction
  • Avoid twisting from the shoulder when pulling.
Send us your funniest cracker jokes using the form below and we will publish the best.

A selection of your favourite cracker jokes:

What did the brave stone say to the shy pebble? "You ought to be a little boulder!"
Robin, England

Two sausages in a frying pan. One said to the other: "It ain't 'alf hot in here." The other one replied: "Blimey, it's a talking sausage."
Paul, UK

Why shouldn't you offer cigarettes to elves? Because they are bad for your elf.
Jason, UK

Why has Edward Woodward got so many D's in his name ? Cos if he didn't he'd be called Ewar Woowar.
Tim, Uk

Where do bees come from? Sting-a-paw (sorry!)
Simon Watkins, Wales, UK

What do you get if you cross a millipede with a microphone? A walkie-talkie.
Karl Shivers, UK

What goes "splish splosh" and comes from cows? The Isle of Wight ferry.
Rob, UK

Did you hear about the two fish in a tank? One said to the other: "How do you drive this thing then?"
Stef Robb, Scotland

What goes: "Snort, snort, can I have a plate please"? A bull in a china shop.
Ian, UK

Last night I dreamt I'd written Lord of the Rings but when I woke up this morning I realised I'd just been Tolkien in my sleep.
David Brodie, UK

Where do Astronauts leave their spaceships? Parking meteors.
Rob, UK

What do you call a tellytubby who's been burgled? A tubby.
Kay Chadwick, UK

Why isn't Cinderella good at football? Because she has a pumpkin for a coach and runs away from the ball.
Marian, Austria

How do you prevent your mouth freezing? Grit your teeth.
Jonathan, England

Why was Santa's little helper depressed? He had low "elf" esteem!
Lorraine Patterson, UK

A man walks into a bar with a piece of tarmac under his arm. "A pint of lager please ..." says the man. "... Oh, and I better have one for the road."
Scott Wardrop, Scotland

Did you hear about the two aerials who got married - apparently the reception was brilliant.
Sally, Germany

There are only 10 types of people in the world - those who understand binary, and those who don't.
Colin, UK

Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9.
Keith Collantine, UK

Two snowmen in a garden - one says to the other "can you smell carrots"?
Andy Prescott, England

Why did the archaeologist go bankrupt? Because his career was in ruins.
Michael Street, UK

What do you call a team of people who have spent time and money investigating how best to pull a cracker? Oh, that is the joke.
Tony, UK

What is brown and sticky? A stick.
Phil Winterhalder, UK

What is ET short for? Because he's only got little legs.
Erik Bean, England

Which cheese never tells the truth? Lychees.
Richard Zheng, UK

What goes splash, splash, splash, splash, splash, splash, splash, clop? An octopus with a wooden leg.
Simon J King, UK

I sent my girlfriend a pile of snow for Christmas. I phoned her later to see if she got my drift.
Phil Johnston, UK

Where does Santa go when he is sick? The national elf service.
Anna, Ireland

Did you hear about the man who drowned in his bowl of muesli? He was dragged down by a strong currant.
Brad, England

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