National Animal Crackers Day is celebrated on April 18th. It's a day to break out your favorite brand of animal crackers and munch 'em and crunch 'em and enjoy being a kid (even if you are an 82 year old kid). Eating animal crackers is one of the few times when it's okay to play with your food.
History of Animal Crackers
Animal crackers come to us from England. For centuries, the British have made various kinds of small, hard, flour based crackers and cookies which they refer to as biscuits. Somewhere along the way they began making lightly sweetened, animal shaped biscuits. In the late 19th century, these animal shaped biscuits called "Animals" were imported from England to the United States. Animal crackers, as we call them, became an instant success and the demand for them grew so much so, that bakeries began making them in the states. The first U.S. bakery to produce animal crackers was Stauffer's Biscuit Company from York, Pennsylvania, in 1871.
Other domestic bakeries began making the crackers too. The Dozier-Weyl Cracker Company of St. Louis and the Holmes and Coutts Company of New York City were two of the premier animal cracker making companies. They later combined to form the National Biscuit Company which we now know as Nabisco Brands.
In 1902, Nabisco began producing a circus themed brand of animal crackers which they called "Barnum's Animals". At Christmas time of that year, Nabisco created the now-familiar circus car box with a string attached, to be, not only an easy to carry container, but also an ornament to hang on the Christmas tree. In 1948, Nabisco changed the cracker's name to "Barnum's Animal Crackers". In 1958, Nabisco changed production methods to give the animals more detail. Nabisco Brands "Barnum Animal Crackers" became the more popular animal cracker on the market because of the well defined animal shapes and sweeter cookie-like flavor.
Although Nabisco Brands animal crackers may be the most recognized, Stauffer's Biscuit Company still produces animal crackers to this day. Their flavors now include: Original, Mini, Chocolate, Iced (yum!), and Cinnamon Graham. For 2011's National Animal Cracker Day, Stauffer's Biscuit Company ran a promotion to build awareness of the Stauffer's brand. They offered cash awards for people to produce 30 - 60 second videos that could be passed on virally. You can go to Poptent.net to view the submissions. I've looked at some of them and would like to share my favorites with you. They're pretty funny. Enjoy!
Sources: Wikipedia AnimalCrackers.net
Image: Flickr Originally uploaded by beepily