For those of you that grew up in an Italian neighborhood or Italian-American family, taralles may be a familiar snack.

For most people, it's probably something you've never heard of.

Honestly, it probably falls into the "acquired taste" category.

It's sort of a pretzel, but not really.

Photo via Racioppi's Taralles Inc. on Facebook
Photo via Racioppi's Taralles Inc. on Facebook

It's a hard, savory cracker/cookie snack that's used by many Italian mamas and nonnas as a teething cookie for babies. Although the flavor profile may be a little advanced for a baby.

You will only find these little gems in Italian specialty stores and the occasional forward-thinking supermarket here in New Jersey.

Photo via Racioppi's Taralles Inc. on Facebook
Photo via Racioppi's Taralles Inc. on Facebook

They show up all over the state, even in South Jersey, although they're made in Bloomfield just outside of Newark.

Racioppi's bakery has been around for 75 years and for the past 25 years has just specialized in taralles, sometimes spelled taralli.

It's a popular snack staple in the very southern regions of Italy, especially Puglia.

The original flavor is fennel and black pepper, but Racioppi's also makes them in pizza flavor, hot pepper and garlic.

Photo via Racioppi's Taralles Inc. on Facebook
Photo via Racioppi's Taralles Inc. on Facebook

My grandmother who was from Calabria, near Puglia, used to make her own and occasionally serve them with a little bit of soft butter.

They also make for great dipping in a cheese spread or paired with a good sharp cheese.

Very few places make them anymore, so let's hope Racioppi's in Bloomfield with continue cranking these little gems for another 75 years.

The Shoprite near me occasionally carries them. If you happen to see them, you should try them!

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