National Graham Cracker Day is July 5.
It is with humility and a feeling of obligation that, as a resident of the much-maligned state of New Jersey, I do whatever I can to pump up the state’s reputation.
And I can do that today!
An auspicious event - the invention of the graham cracker – occurred in the state in 1829.
The graham cracker’s origins are credited to a state resident by the name of – you guessed it – Graham.
He was a bit weird for his time. And ours.
Graham, a Presbyterian minister, created the biscuit as part of Graham’s Diet, a vegetarian, no white flour and no spices regimen. The motivation for Graham’s dietary beliefs had nothing to do with the reasons today’s vegetarians and other nutritional advocates adhere to similar food restrictions.
Graham hoped his diet would cure individuals of what he considered to be a moral weakness and scourge of the time: sexual compulsions and masturbation. Graham believed masturbation led to insanity and blindness.
Originally a bland concoction of unbleached wheat flour, almost two centuries later the graham cracker has morphed into a cookie-like treat sweetened with sugar, honey, and/or cinnamon. Ironically today they are often made with the white bleached flour Graham detested.
Most Americans are probably familiar with the campfire delicacy made famous by the Girl Scouts called S’mores, a sandwich of chocolate and a marshmallow – melted over the campfire – crushed between two graham crackers. The recipe first appeared in a 1927 Girl Scout manual.
Of course graham crackers are not reserved strictly for S’mores. They can be consumed solo, perhaps enhanced with a glass of milk. Recipes for graham cracker piecrusts and cheesecake crusts abound. Graham crackers are one ingredient found in various kinds of pancakes, muffins, ice cream sandwiches, fudge, and other sweet delights.
But S’mores are, in my respectful opinion, the best use of graham crackers.
Happy eating today - National Graham Cracker Day!
FYI –National S’mores Day is August 10. So enjoy the treat at least twice a year!