The Bizarre, Puritanical Reasoning Behind Graham Crackers

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Not about s'mores, but sexual mores.

Believe it or not, graham crackers weren't originally created as a means for eating melted marshmallow and chocolate by the campfire. Rather, the crumby summer favorite was created with more moralistic intentions: to rid Americans of their lust and greed.

In a video by Great Big Story, the storytelling network reveals the history of the snack and the man who gave the cracker his name, Sylvester Graham. Graham himself was not in fact a sweets-loving outdoorsman with a penchant for roasting 'mallows over flame, but rather a 19th century minister on a mission to cure the world of their sexually deviant ways.

Graham believed the way to curb the sexual appetite was to fill it with something less pleasurable: namely, a bland, essentially flavorless cracker. Because the minister believed the root of human lust, greed, and sexuality was more indulgent delights, including alcohol, meat, and fatty foods, he determined that a simple food made of wheat germ, bran, and unbleached flour was the perfect appetite suppressor.

The crackers, and Graham's theory on sexuality, built him a loyal moralistic fanbase, who called themselves Grahamites—the 19th century equivalent to Beliebers—but eventually that cult following died down and the minister passed away in 1851, leaving his flavorless crackers behind.

So how did Graham's invention go from bland replacement food to beloved snack? Nabisco, then known as the National Biscuit Company, revived the once-popular cracker, adding an extra ingredient to the recipe to give it a subtle sweetness: honey. The rest was history. So, the next time you're sandwiching some s'mores fillings between two pieces of Graham, make sure to think of the long-gone Sylvester... though we're pretty sure he wouldn't approve of your sweet, indulgent ingredients.

Watch the video:

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