By Diane Forrest
Animal crackers in my soup
Monkeys and rabbits loop the loop
Gosh oh gee but I have fun
Swallowing animals one by one
In every bowl of soup I see
Lions and Tigers watching me
I make 'em jump right through a hoop
Those animal crackers in my soup
Those words are from a song sung in the movie Curly Top by Shirley Temple. I love the song, Love Shirley Temple and I love animal crackers! My favorites are found in the box that looks like a circus cage as is pictured above. I loved having my own little box with a string attached to carry it. I would identify each animal before biting its head off. Then there was a period in my life where I was too grown up for animal crackers. Luckily that didn't last long. When my son was starting to chew solid foods, I started getting him his own box of animal crackers. He loved them as much as I did, and even now that he is "too grown up” I will still surprise him with a box of them.
Animal Crackers were imported from England in the 19th century. They were known as bisque’s and they were cut in the shape of circus or zoo animals. The demand for these crackers became so great that Stauffer’s Biscuit Company produced their first batch of animal crackers sometime around the start of the 20th century in York, Pennsylvania.
In 1902, animal crackers officially became known as "Barnum's Animals" and evoked the familiar circus theme of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Later in 1902, the now-familiar box was designed for the Christmas season with the innovative idea of attaching a string to hang from the Christmas tree. Up until that time, crackers were generally only sold in bulk or in large tins. These small cartons, which retailed for five cents at the time of their release, were a big hit and are still sold today.
Each box contains 22 animals. In total there have been 37 different animals featured in Barnum's Animal Crackers since 1903. The current crackers are tiger, cougar, camel, rhinoceros, kangaroo, hippopotamus, bison, lion, hyena, zebra, elephant, sheep, bear, gorilla, monkey, polar bear, seal and giraffe. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Barnum's added the koala to the menagerie in September 2002.
Competitor brand Stauffer's also makes them in flavors like chocolate graham, cinnamon graham, cotton candy, and frosted varieties. My favorite is the hyena. I would eat one then laugh like crazy trying to be the hyena. Today is National Animal Crackers Day. Why not grab your own box and pick out your favorite animal?