There’s more to crackers than meets the eye. It can be easy to take this cornerstone of snacking for granted, but crackers have a rich and innovative history dating back to early North American settlers.
Moonshot is taking crackers to the next level with climate-friendly, locally grown ingredients. We support local, regenerative farmers who grow crazy delicious healthy and nutritious food can.
Here’s a brief look at where crackers first came from, why they have holes, and how Moonshot is taking crackers into the future. 🚀 🌎
The History of the Cracker
Crackers feel like a timeless snacking staple, but they’re newer than you would think. While bread has been around for several millennia, crackers are only a few hundred years old—and they have evolved significantly in a short period of time.
Who Invented the Cracker?
You can thank Massachusetts for your favorite soup companion. Unlike many foods that evolved from European dishes and recipes, crackers are entirely the product of New England settlers who created early variations of crackers that evolved into the ones we use for our cheese boards and after-school snacks today.
John Pearson is generally credited as the inventor of the first cracker. Based out of Newburyport, Massachusetts, John was looking to create food for sailors who needed long-lasting stores for months at sea. John’s solution was to mix flour and a little bit of water, then bake it.
Because there were no ingredients in the cracker that could spoil, it lasted well at sea and became a staple of sailing life known as sea biscuit or hardtack. John called it “Pearson’s Pilot Bread.”
John wasn’t the only settler who helped create the modern-day cracker. Josiah Bent, another New Englander, took the cracker to unforeseen commercial and culinary heights. Some people even think he came up with the name “cracker.” The story goes that Josiah first created crackers by leaving his biscuits in a brick oven until they burned and produced a crackling sound.
Josiah took his new invention well beyond the sailors of Massachusetts. He created a business that saw quick success and went on to sell it to Nabisco. Not long after, the cracker became a veritable staple of American dining.
When Was the First Cracker Made?
John Pearson first invented his “Pearson’s Pilot Bread” in 1792. In 1801, Josiah Bent accidentally discovered his crackling biscuits. By 1810, Josiah had a successful cracker business, which he sold to one of the largest snack manufacturers in the world just a few years later.
Crackers have a short and sweet history. They’ve quickly grown into an important part of American cuisine, and they just keep getting better.
Moonshot is continuing that rich history of cracker innovation by working towards a zero-waste future with plant-based, carbon neutral crackers.
How Many Crackers Are Sold A Year?
Cracker production is a socially and financially influential industry. It’s estimated that nearly 260 million Americans consumed savory and sweet crackers in 2020, and that number is expected to rise in future years.
Why Do Crackers Have Holes?
These holes are called docking holes and they’re a classic cracker characteristic. These docking holes are a key element in creating the crackers you love. Here’s a little insight into exactly why crackers need docking holes.
Without docking holes, crackers wouldn’t look or taste like crackers at all! As crackers are baked, they’re filled with air. This causes the cracker to stretch and can change its texture. When air bubbles go unchecked, they can even cause explosions! 🤯
When a cracker has docking holes, steam is able to escape so the cracker doesn’t stretch… or combust. You may also notice that some crackers are puffy. They’re designed with fewer docking holes so they can fill with air during the baking process.
Shape of Cracker
There are a few common cracker shapes including circles, triangles, squares, and even kid-friendly specialty designs. Producing uniform crackers ensures all of the cracker dough is used and nothing goes to waste during production. Uniform shapes also allow docking holes to be positioned evenly, so each cracker achieves the same texture.
Texture and Crunch
Docking is especially important to a cracker’s texture and mouthfeel. When a cracker isn’t docked properly, the dough expands and becomes thin. When a thind cracker comes out of the oven, it will feel crumbly, doughy, or chewy instead of the crispy, crunchy texture we all know and love.
How Are the Holes Made?
Docking is an essential step in baking and producing crackers, but how is it done? Cracker docking isn’t just an art—it’s a science.
To get uniform and evenly-spaced holes, bakers and manufacturers rely on a “docker prick.” These rolling devices are covered in even spikes and rolled across cracker dough, leaving perfectly placed holes. These holes release the right amount of steam to give you a crunchy, delicious cracker every time.
When Are the Holes Made?
Docking is the final step before a cracker goes into the oven. First, the dough is flattened and cut, then it is docked and baked. This sequence ensures that each cracker is uniform, and the holes are spaced evenly.
Positioning of the Holes
It’s important to achieve both the right number of holes and the right hole position when making crackers. When a cracker has too many holes, it won’t retain enough moisture. This creates a dry, hard cracker that burns easily. If a cracker doesn’t have enough holes, it will be doughy and chewy—if it doesn’t explode in the oven.
Docking holes should be evenly spaced, not too close and not too far away. A docking prick can help ensure that your crackers are optimally spaced and your snacks are baked perfectly every time.
The cracker has undergone many delicious and exciting changes in the years since it was first used as food on ships sailing out of Massachusetts. It has become commercially available, with a wide variety of flavors, shapes, and uses. Crackers’ impact on the food industry can’t be overstated—they’re a snacking superstar!
At Moonshot, we’re taking the perfect cracker to the next level. Not only do our crackers come in delicious flavors like Sourdough Sea Salt, Rosemary Garlic, and Tomato Basil, they’re also climate-friendly and made from regeneratively grown ingredients.
We’re dedicated to tackling climate change by creating healthy and delicious snack foods to share with your family and friends. We support local farmers and growers, believe in plant-based eating, and want to be part of the solution for a more climate-friendly future. We hope you’ll join us on the journey toward a cleaner, greener, tomorrow—we’ll bring snacks!