I’m somewhat obsessed, Yes, obsessed with Saltines! I eat them to “wash my meds down” and when I’m feeling hungry and really don’t want to cook something or that “non-sweet” snack. They are good with a lot of different things, have fewer carbs, calories and fats and are considered an excellent snack to munch on especially if dieting.

“Saltines” is actually a trademark owned by Nabisco. They are “crackers”, but we all know to call them Saltines from its rich history.

Originally called soda crackers, they were first sold loose in giant barrels until they began mass production that packed them in separate packages, cartons, cardboard sleeves or decorated tins. The packaging has hardly changed over the years, embedding the concept in consumers minds.

The wonderfully salty, crunchy, crispy and dry textured quality that it promises, renders in your mouth and the actual flavor appears, and what your taste buds detect is a carefully blended chemistry of enriched flour, measured baking soda, what-not corn syrup and water that can only be described as an extraordinary thing. If after it would even make any difference, deciding which side you would eat yours, “salt up or salt down”, is still scrumptious either way.

They have a recognizable “look”, an assembly line look, perforated edges, shaped in a pick-me-up size with the feel of sandpaper on one side and slightly, little tiny browned puffy air mounds on the other side that have a sprinkle of coarse salt on top that is perfect on its own or blended with other foods or generally eaten with butter, cheese, peanut butter or with (a Scrappy Chef household favorite) cream cheese, even outrageously awesome, crumbled into stews, soups, chilies, salads, etc. When you bite into it, the crunch awakens your tongue to crisp goodness!

“Saltines” claimed to have been invented in 1792 in Massachusetts by John Pearson in the family bakery. They were called “Pilot Bread”. Its mythical invention date now at 1801, when someone burnt a batch that cracked on top and they took on a whole new shape in the process. Renamed and sold as “water biscuits”, they were famously distributed to weary soldiers in battlefields during the Civil War, and to this date are still included in US military field rations. Their popularity can be traced back to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, where people had little money and needed food that was inexpensive, healthy and flavorful and often used as a filler that could expand portion quantity for their families or as a ritual preferred by GrandPa’s and Dads at the dinner table and often disliked by the wife, was crumbled into soups to make the dishes thicker and filling.

So what do Saltines mean? Suggesting it embraces a contradiction in terms at the same time, satisfying poverty in one hand and comfort on the other, as this country joins the nations unemployed in this period of upper and lower-case depression, it’s comforting to know one can afford to eat a cracker, which averages 1 to 1½ cent a piece. One could walk Main St. picking up pennies and be able to afford to eat crackers compared to ordinary celery or a family-sized bag of potato chips. That’s what makes them perfect with anything and yet a comforting constant in these turbulent times, crackers give you a feeling of nostalgia for home and comfort, from being alone and sick or one of Mom’s “sick food” she gave you as a child to ease the discomfort of nausea or the flu, along with the tasteless, substance-less broth and Jello that was supposed to be so good for you and make you feel better.

The Recipe

Crackers are fantastic because they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, just crush up a sleeve and use it in place of breadcrumbs or as a crumble, pie crust or a filler. These sandwich cookies can be made in a pinch and are delicious.

Dipped Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies Makes 15 cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup peanut butter

30 round Ritz crackers

1 cup white or semi-sweet chocolate chips, or almond bark

1 TBL shortening

Directions:

Spread peanut butter on half the crackers, top with other half and refrigerate to firm.

Melt chips and oil in double boiler or microwave. Stir until smooth. Dip Cracker sandwiches in mixture; allow excess to drop off. Place on wax paper and chill until firm.

Happy Fooding! Happy Crackering! Your thoughts and ideas and recipes are always welcomed to be featured. [email protected] the last words.

“As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices; take it or leave it.” Buddy Hackett


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