The Untold Truth of Ritz Crackers

Ritz Crackers have been a fixture in grocery stores for over 80 years. The crackers we all know and love today originated in the late 18th century as a New England variation of hardtack — a bread baked until it has no water content left. Hardtack was prized for its shelf life, surviving decades if stored properly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very tasty. Bakers in New England solved that problem by adding leavening, producing a tasty cracker more like the Ritz Crackers we enjoy today. In 1898, New York Biscuit Company merged with another bakery to form National Biscuit Company, which shortened its name to Nabisco. It was Nabisco that went on to develop Ritz Crackers in 1934 and quickly dominated the cracker industry. When Ritz crackers were released at the height of the Great Depression, the Ritz Hotel was considered the epitome of luxury, which is why Nabisco elected to name their crackers after the fancy hotel. It wasn’t long before the humble crackers showed up on the menu at New York’s swanky Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Americans with tight wallets viewed Ritz Crackers as an affordable way to get a little taste of the wealthy lifestyle. At a mere 19¢ per box, Ritz Crackers allowed consumers to fantasize about better times in the middle of great difficulties.