10 Things food

10 Things You Don’t Know About… Animal Crackers

Animal crackers (such as the familiar red circus train-themed box of Barnum’s Animals that we all know and love) have been around for more than a century.  Here are 10 things you may not know about them:

  1. You can make a game out eating them.  Without looking, pop an animal cracker into your mouth, then try to identify which animal shape it is.  Of course, it helps if you’ve shown the cracker to a game partner first so you’ll know if you’ve guessed correctly or not.  Note that some brands of animal crackers are better suited for this game than others.  Crackers that are merely embossed are much more difficult to figure out than crackers that actually are in the shape of the animal in question.
  2. Depending on who you believe, either 53 different animals have been included in the Barnum animal cracker circus train box over the years (as documented by Jennifer Frey of the Washington Post), or 37 (if you believe Wikipedia).
  3. The most recent animal added?  The koala, in 2002.
  4. Barnum’s Animal Crackers began in England before being brought over to the United States
  5. Contrary to popular belief, the name “Barnum” in “Barnum’s Animal Crackers” is not licensed from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus
  6. The string handle was added to the decorative box so the boxes could be hung on a Christmas tree. 
  7. Most animal crackers are designed to be round, sturdy creatures so the crackers remain whole during shipping.  Alligator crackers won’t ever be made, as it is expected their tails would snap off in the box.
  8. Each Barnum’s Animal Crackers package contains 22 crackers
  9. Most people bite the heads off the animals first.
  10. PETA is anti-animal cookie, as they say that the cookies (with their circus-themed box) promote circus animal misery.