Crackers and Croutons

Cracker sales are on the rise!


We're talking about a 15% jump in cracker purchases from '08 to ‘09.  This could mean one or more of several things.  Why?  Some would be quick to cite "the economy" as the reason as some are quick to ascribe everything to the economy.  Others would say that it's simply a cyclical thing, and still others would guess that the cracker industry has simply hooked up with a crack PR team.  But before we come to any conclusions, we have to ask these questions: What constitutes a cracker? Are the numbers perhaps being fudged a bit by the addition of undeserving items?


For example, animal crackers? Do these count?  Regardless of the name on the box, these are cookies in our book. Until you can name another cracker that is sweet, beloved by children, and in novel shapes, we insist they’re cookies.  


On the other hand, the "oyster" structure associated with oyster crackers do not, in our opinion, constitute a novel shape. They can, therefore, legitimately be classified as crackers.  However, we have another bone to pick with these boneless items.  Since the most common use for oyster crackers is in clam chowder, why not call them clam crackers? 


And then there’s matzah, the unleavened Passover item, which, although large, is a cracker in practically every sense of the word.  It’s flat, brittle, has holes in it, is good for spreading things on, and is practically tasteless.  But its specific use is as a  holiday substitute for bread.  So does matzah count, despite operating in a shady netherworld between bread and crackers?


Back to the recent spike in cracker sales.  It’s due in part to the new-found popularity of gluten-free crackers, which saw a nearly 44% rise in sales (unflavored ones even more, at a whopping 60% jump!).

Crackers and Croutons Shelf Life
Bread Crumbs and Croutons6 months
Crackers3 months
Handling Tips: 
Crackers with natural or added oils can become rancid, especially if they're stored at high temperatures for a period of time. Check for rancidity, by smelling the contents. If you detect an off-odor, discard the product.
Boyer, Renee, and Julie McKinney. "Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers." Virginia Cooperative Extension (2009): n. pag. Web. 7 Dec 2009.

Penn State Cooperative Extension, Northampton County "Food Safety--Is It Still Good To Eat?"

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