Tag Archives: Barnum

Kid Stuff: Animal Crackers


Nabisco animal crackers, or Barnum's Animals, come with a signature string on top. Nabisco uses 8,000 miles of that string each year. Uploaded by ireference.ca.

The first cookies baked in the shape of animals came from the kitchens of Stauffer’s Biscuit Company in York, Pennsylvania back in 1871. The National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) began marketing them as “Barnum’s Animals” in 1902. They have a long history, and since they have something of a retro feel to them, you’d think these animals might become extinct.


Uploaded by wikipedia.org.

But you’d think wrong. Even though they’re not as sweet as other cookies, kids still love ’em. And though they’re not exactly the height of nutritional excellence, parents know that lots of other treats their kids might otherwise enjoy are a lot worse.

The animals used to be somewhat hard to identify. The details were lacking, and a bear looked a lot like a lion, for example. But techniques have improved, and the animals are much more distinct today. It’s said that there have been 37 different animals represented since 1902, though today that number is 19 (in Nabisco’s product). Of course, animal crackers wouldn’t be the same without the characteristic string on top. Some say it was added so the box could be a Christmas ornament; others think it’s simply a convenient handle. Either way, Nabisco now uses 8,000 miles of string on its boxes each year…