13 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About Animal Crackers

Remember animal crackers? Weren't those fun? Take a trip down memory lane with these quirky facts about the classic snack.

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1. Animals crackers originated in England. There they are called animal biscuits. They have been made since the 1800s, and after gaining so much popularity over in England, Americans wanted to try them too so bakers started experimenting with their own recipes. Check out these quirky facts you never knew about the origin of your favorite foods.

2. There have been 54 different kinds of animals in total. The current animals included in every box are tigers, cougars, camels, rhinoceroses, kangaroos, hippopotamuses, bison, lions, hyenas, zebras, elephants, sheep, bears, gorillas, monkeys, seals, and giraffes.

3. Animal crackers are the name of the snack, not a particular brand. In the U.S., several different companies produce animal-shaped treats. The first was Stauffer Biscuit Company in 1871. They still use their original recipe.

4. Nabisco was the first to sell the crackers in boxes. In 1902, Nabisco started to sell, what they call, Barnum’s Animals. They were based off of the very popular circus put on by P.T. Barnum. The boxes had pictures of the animals and looked like the trains the circus used to transport the animals in. Before this, the crackers had only been sold in bulk from a barrel.

5. They are still a profitable snack. Today, over 40 million packages of animal crackers are sold around the world every year and distributed to 17 different countries.

6. Animal crackers have their own day. It’s April 18.

7. They were once a great bargain. In 1902, one box was sold for 5 cents. Today, they are still a great treat to pick up at a low price, with one box going for around one dollar.

8. There is a reason for the string on the box. It was originally intended to be used to hang the box as an ornament on a Christmas tree. But now, it’s a convenient way for toddlers to tote around their snack.

9. A lot of string is used. Around 8,000 miles’ worth of string is used every year!

10. The most recent animal added to the collection, a koala, was chosen through a contest. In 2002, to celebrate their 100th anniversary, Nabisco had a contest to choose the next animal they were going to add. The koala beat out the penguin, cobra, and walrus. This is how iconic foods got their name.

11. The monkey is the only animal that wears clothes. No one knows why, but the monkey is the only animal wearing clothes. He has on a pair of pants.

12. Shirley Temple famously sang about animal crackers. In the movie, Curly Top (1935), Shirley Temple sang a song called “Animal Crackers in My Soup.” However, she incorrectly sang about them, singing, “monkeys and rabbits loop the loop.” Rabbits have never been one of the 54 animals made into crackers. The song still went on to be popular with Nabisco; they used it in their commercials for many years.

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13. They recently updated their design. After 116 years, Nabisco decided to uncage the wild animals featured on their box. The animals are now pictured roaming around in the grass instead of behind bars. The change happened after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) pressured the company to change the box that displayed the cruelty and unethical behavior that was inflicted on animals in the circus.

Sources: mobilecusine.com, mentalfloss.com

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.