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Boxes Of Animal Crackers Use Almost 8,000 Miles’ Worth Of String Every Year!

Updated April 11, 2024 

  • 1800s – Animal crackers, or ‘animals’, are invented in the U.K. where they are wildly popular and eventually exported to America
  • 1871 – The first commercially produced animal crackers in America are first produced by Stauffer’s Biscuit Company in York, Pennsylvania.
  • 1877 – The earliest-known print recipe for ‘animals’ is published in “Secrets of the Bakers and Confectioners’ Trade,” written by J.D. Hounihan and first published in 1877.
  • 1902 – The National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), introduces its iconic Barnum’s Animals in a circus-train-themed box and quickly becomes the most popular brand of “animals” in America.
  • 2018 – Animal Crackers are freed from their box cages after 116 years when the iconic circus cage box is replaced by an image of animals walking freely across an open savanna.

National Today

(April 17, 2020) National Animal Crackers Day on April 18th each year celebrates a childhood favorite. A box of these sweet animal-shaped crackers not only provided a delicious snack, but they also offered a little entertainment, too!

Do you want to play with your animal crackers? Play a little Animal Cracker Bingo at snack time. Download and print as many of the blank cards as you need. Most brands of animal crackers have 13 different kinds of animals. To play bingo, everyone will need about two of every kind of animal. (Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?).

Faith Based Events
  • The famous Barnum’s animal crackers box was originally a Christmas ornament hung by a string.  The string can still be found on boxes.
  • A box of Animal Crackers sold for 5 cents in 1902.
  • Animal Crackers originated in England where they were known as animal biscuits.
  • 54 different animals have been created as animal crackers. The most popular brand, Barnum’s Animal Crackers, has featured 37 different animals since 1902.
  • Over the years, the only ones that have survived the entire lifetime of the product are bears, elephants, lions, and tigers.
  • Shirley Temple sang “Animal crackers in my soup, Monkeys, and rabbits loop the loop,”, but rabbits never found their way into a box of Barnum’s Animal Crackers.
  • The name referred to P. T. Barnum (1810-1891), the famous circus owner and showman.
  • The current crackers are tiger, cougar, camel, rhinoceros, kangaroo, hippopotamus, bison, lion, hyena, zebra, elephant, sheep, bear, gorilla, monkey, seal and giraffe.
  • Even though they are commonly just called ‘animal crackers’, their actual name is really ‘Barnum’s Animals Crackers’.
  • For the cracker’s 100th anniversary, a survey was asked as to which animal shape the public would like to see added into the mix. The choices were: koala bear, penguin, walrus or cobra. The koala bear won with the cobra coming in last place.
  • The monkey is the only animal cracker that’s ever worn clothes.
  • 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.
  • 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 on 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.
  • 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.
  • Around 8,000 miles’ worth of string is used every year!
  • 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.


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