Who Invented Crackers?

When & Where were Crackers Invented? What are the Ingredients used? How many Types of Crackers are available?
who invented crackers

A cracker is a thin, flat, baked food made of flour and water. People enjoy eating crackers with cheese and various other toppings. Even though people have been eating them for years, most of us never wondered who invented crackers or when were crackers invented, until today.

1. What is the Story behind the Invention?

Before the invention of refrigerators, it wasn’t easy to store things. So, voyagers and sailors couldn’t carry food and vegetables because they would be rotten within a couple of days. To overcome this food problem, people began to make loaves of bread and biscuits with processed flour. But the bread, too, could not stand such long journeys and would get spoilt. So, the bakers thought of a more reliable option. They started making bread in harder forms like biscuits or cookies. King Richard I of England had carried the biscuit of muslin with him on the Third Crusade. (See How Many is a Baker’s Dozen?)

2. How Did Biscuits Change?

Biscuits became soft and mushy because of humidity, so bakers came up with a new idea. They started baking the biscuits more than twice so that they could withstand several weather conditions. For long voyages, a batch was being baked four times instead of two. Thus, these biscuits could be stored for years, if these were kept dry and stored properly. After the invention of hard biscuits in the mid-1500s, they were given the name Hardtack because of their hard texture.

To soften them, one had to dip the crackers in beverages like coffee or beer or cook them with millets. Hence, they became the base of our modern-day crackers. Read the next segment to know who invented crackers. (See Where Did Pasta Originate?)

3. When & Who Invented Crackers?

Ever since the hardtack became the favorite food option for sailors, voyagers, and navy personnel, it came to be known as Sailor’s biscuit. But some people felt there should be a biscuit that would not be spoilt but not as hard. In 1792, a man named John Pearson from Newburyport in Massachusetts decided to try his hand at it. He made a mixture of water and flour and then, baked it. He named these Pearson’s Pilot Bread. So, it is quite evident that John Pearson is the person who invented crackers.

The biscuits were later renamed crackers in 1801 when Josiah Bent discovered that they made a cracking sound when burnt. (Also see Why is it called Continental Breakfast?)

4. What is Shape & Flavor of Crackers?

Crackers are available in different shapes and sizes. Some can be round, rectangular, or even irregular in shape. The person who invented crackers just added only three basic ingredients. Later on, some more ingredients were added to the recipe that gave a different flavor to the crackers.

round shaped crackers

5. What are Different Varieties of Crackers?

Various list of crackers is listed below:

  • Saltine or soda cracker is a thin, square cracker made from water, flour, baking soda, and yeast. Salt is sprinkled on the top of the cracker that has perforations on the surface. They are dry and crispy.
  • Graham crackers were developed in the United States in the mid 19th century. They are sweet-flavored crackers made with graham flour. These are available in honey and cinnamon flavor.
  • Digestive biscuits, also known as sweet-meal biscuits, originated in Scotland by two doctors to aid digestion. They were called digestive biscuits because they have antacid properties, as baking soda was used for leveling the dough.
  • Cheese crackers have cheese as the main ingredient. Cheese is either mixed into the dough or placed on top of hot crackers after baking. It is a high-calorie snack.
  • Oyster crackers are small and round, about the size of 15 millimeters. They are salty. As their name suggests, they are usually served with oyster stew or clam chowder.

John Pearson, who invented crackers, will always be credited for baking the first cracker at a time when it wasn’t even in anyone’s imagination. (Also read How Are Jelly Beans Made?)

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