Monday, February 17, 2020

Have an Animal Cracker! - and a Giveaway

 By Davalynn Spencer

Crackers are my downfall. Especially those that are slightly sweet. Somehow, I feel less guilty for binging, um, I mean eating a few.

No cooking required, right? Add a hot cup of tea or coffee, and I have a perfect meal substitute to fuel me through a writing project. Maybe that’s why D.F. Stauffer's animal crackers showed up in my latest novella, Just in Time for Christmas.

The year 1875 in the Old West saw most people preparing their own food with few exceptions: those who could afford to hire a cook or eat at cafés and hotels, and those who showed up on time during a cattle drive for whatever Cookie had prepared.

There were no fast-food places, unless one considered hard tack and jerked beef fast food. If so, that fare could be found a short reach away in one’s saddlebags.

American tastes for British “biscuits” (crackers) ensured the import of such delectables from England, which led domestic bakers to try their hand at the craft. (The term “cracker” was reportedly coined by New York baker Josiah Bent in 1801 for a crunchy biscuit/cookie.)

D.F. Stauffer and son Albert in the Stauffer's Steam Biscuit Bakery delivery wagon, 1989.
(Image from author's collection: 
A Cookbook, by D.F. Stauffer, York, PA Mennonite Biscuit Cookie Company)
D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Company’s famous animal-shaped crackers first showed up in York, Pennsylvania, in 1871. According to the introduction in A Cookbook, by D.F. Stauffer, David F. Stauffer began his venture with five barrels of crackers from a business founded in 1858 by Jacob Weiser. The Stauffer cracker barrels were delivered by wheelbarrow. Today, Stauffer's products are delivered by semi-tractor trailers across the United States and several other countries. 

Two additional Stauffer bakeries also produce animal crackers and other products in Cuba, New York, and Santa Ana, California. Some crackers come in unique flavors, such as cheddar-cheese whales and ginger-flavored “snaps,” but animal crackers remain their best seller. 
From author's "collection." Stauffer's Animal Crackers
In the 1800s, other domestic bakeries joined forces as the New York Biscuit Company in 1889. The National Biscuit Company formed in 1898, which we recognize today as Nabisco.

Over the years, conglomerate mergers have swallowed the once privately owned bakeries. But Stauffer’s Animal Crackers live on (not to be confused with Nabisco’s Barnum Animals of 1902 origin). 

From author's collection.
According to the web site, Stauffer's is currently owned by Meiji Seika of Japan. There are currently 13 animal-cracker shapes. My favorite, of course, was always the horse. 
Thirteen animal shapes still offered today by Stauffer's Animal Crackers.
Image courtesy Wikipedia.
What about you? Do you (or did you) have a favorite animal-cracker shape? Regardless of its origin, share your chosen animal shape in the comments below, and I’ll toss your name in the cookie tin for a drawing. The randomly-chosen winner will receive a signed print copy of A High-Country Christmas Romance Collection which includes Just in Time for Christmas.

Happy munching!

Davalynn Spencer can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, she writes romance for those who enjoy a Western tale with a rugged hero, both historical and contemporary. She holds the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, teaches writing workshops, and plays the keyboard on her church worship team. When she’s not writing, teaching, or playing, she’s wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Learn more about Davalynn and her books at Become a newsletter friend and receive a free historical novella:


  1. I love animal crackers! I don't really have a favorite, although I may have "paraded" them from the container to my mouth. Thanks Davalynn, I see a grocery store stop in my future today. ;) RW620 at AOL dot COM

  2. I have always enjoyed animal crackers I don't think I ever had a favorite shape, though. I used to buy them a lot for the little ones when I was in charge of the Nursery at the church I was attending. Thank you for this awesome giveaway.

  3. How fun! While animal crackers aren't my first choice, I used to buy them for the grandkids when they were small. Thanks for the giveaway. bcrug at twc dot com

  4. Thank you Robin, Barbara, and Connie. It's fun to see how animal crackers have played a part in our lives!

  5. I loved animal crackers as a kid and still do today. I guess maybe the elephant is my favorite.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  6. I've always loved animal crackers. Not too sweet and perfect with a cup of coffee in the afternoon! I like the buffalo shape and it's probably because they remind me of the TV westerns that I loved watching with my Daddy! Thanks for your giveaway.

  7. I like the house cat, but the lion was easiest to eat. I didn't know there was a buffalo in the shapes! That's kind of cool to know. I like this kind of history, thanks!

  8. P.S. My favorite snack, well, I have a couple of them, one is Ritz sour cream and onion toasted chips, the other is Lindt's caramel truffles.

    Romans 10:8-13; John 3:16-21

  9. Thank you Wendy, Connie, and Nancy for commenting. Such fun!

  10. When I was little, we would all close our eyes and try to guess our animals. I liked getting the camel 🐫 or horse 🐎.

  11. This was a great post with the history of animal crackers. Now I want to go open my snack package of them with a cup of hot tea. I liked all the animals (I grew up on a farm with plenty of animals. It was fun to make the half crackers into unique shapes as a child. Thank you for the giveaway. This collection sounds awesome! marilynridgway78[at]gmail[dot[com

  12. I have always enjoyed eating animal crackers of any shape. It's just plain fun!

  13. Animal crackers were always one of my favorites growing up. I loved the horses!
    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  14. Tammy, Marilyn, Michelle, and Melanie - so glad you stopped by. What great histories of animal crackers!

  15. Mine has always been the lion.
    Theresa Norris
    weceno at yahoo dot com

  16. Great post, Davalyn! We always had these growing up. They may have been a cheaper alternative for cookies since there were four of us kids. My favorite is the rhinoceros.

  17. My favorite animal cracker is the lion.
    This was an interesting post.

  18. My favorite snack as a kid! I loved the monkey!

    1. Congratulations, Pam. You are the randomly drawn winner for a signed copy of my Christmas collection, A High-Country Christmas.

  19. I love the buffalo shape cookie. Thanks for letting us play.

  20. Elephant! I love animal crackers. They give me something crunchy without many calories! I almost always have some in my cabinet. jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com