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)
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|
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.|
|Thirteen animal shapes still offered today by Stauffer's Animal Crackers. |
Image courtesy Wikipedia.