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Animal Crackers in 2013 [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]

animal crackers
Animal Crackers in “bulk” at the station…and almost gone! (Craig Allen photo)

I saw this container on the table, near what was left of the bagels…and it got me thinking…

Animal crackers as we now know them have quite a history…first coming to the U.S. by way of England!  In the late 1800′s, animal-shaped cookies (or biscuits to use the British term), were made in England, and shipped here. Demand was so great, that Stauffer’s Biscuit Company produced their first animal crackers sometime around 1900, in Pennsylvania.  Other American bakeries, including the Dozier-Weyl Cracker Company of St. Louis, and the Holmes and Coutts Company of New York City, pre-dated the National Biscuit Company… today’s “Nabisco.”

In 1902, the National Biscuit Company’s animal crackers officially became known as “Barnum’s Animals,” conjuring up visions of the famous circus.

Later that year, the now-familiar box was designed for the Christmas season. In a great marketing ploy, a looped string was attached so that the cracker boxes could hang from the Christmas tree!

Up until that time, crackers were generally sold in bulk, or found in large tins…

animal crackers
The famous animal crackers box, as it is today. ( photo)

The small cartons, which sold for five cents at the time, were a big hit…and are still sold today (a little pricier, obviously).

In 1948, the company changed the product name to “Barnum’s Animal Crackers”.

Prior to 1958, the crackers were stamped out of a dough sheet by a cutter. This produced animal outlines with little detail. Since then, using what are called rotary dies, bakers actually engrave animal details onto each cracker, creating a more sophisticated design!

Did you know that all Barnum’s Animal Crackers are baked by Nabisco in Fair Lawn?!

The crackers are baked in a 300-foot long “traveling band” oven. They are in the oven for about four minutes, and are baked at the rate of 12,000 per minute.

More than 40 million packages of Barnum’s Animal Crackers are sold each year, both in the United States, and exported to 17 countries worldwide.  And that’s just the statistics for “real” animal crackers…not the pretenders…the “knock-offs” that have inspired me!

So, back to my thinking…

Through research, I have learned that the animal crackers in the distinctive box with the string that I remember so fondly from my youth include: bear, camel, crocodile, elephant, giraffe, gorilla, horse, lion, seal, tiger and zebra. To celebrate the animal cracker’s 100th birthday, Nabisco added the koala in 2002 (but has discontinued it since).  In all, 37 different animals have been in the lineup over the years! You may remember this fact coming to light in the form of an “Over-Under” question with Deminski & Doyle two Fridays ago…

So…I’m thinking/wondering…what animals should be added (and what animals can be deleted) to more accurately reflect the “tastes” of the 2013 animal cracker consumer?

If Monopoly can put it up for a vote, why not Animal Crackers?!

Do I hear a vote for the “trendy” iguana, perhaps?

Get creative! Post your ideas below!

Just don’t say “Winnie The Pooh.”

As you can see, he’s already a “pretender” in a (lowly) plastic container…


And, just to put you in the mood (and, because I can)…

Shirley Temple, from the 1935 film “Curly Top.”

Yeah, you’ve seen this on that TV commercial…like you could possibly miss it…

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