Animals Even Vegetarians Love to Eat
by Mad Dog
what animal crackers are. They’re the small, dry, tasteless cookies
which teach children that it’s okay to bite animals in the butt.
||Animal crackers are 100
years old. No, not the package that’s sitting on your kitchen shelf
next to the Fudge Covered Double Stuf Christmas Oreos with the yummy
green creme filling—after all, only Twinkies have a shelf life that
long—but rather the brand itself.
It was way back in 1902 that Nabisco
took a cookie—yes, even they admit it’s not really a cracker—which
had been popular in England for years and created Barnum’s Animals as
they’re officially called. That same year the Wright brothers flew
their first airplane, Crayola crayons hit the market, and Strom Thurmond
was elected to his first term in Congress. It was a good year for
Barnum’s Animals was an instant
success thanks to marketing—Nabisco put them in a package that looked
like a circus wagon and attached a string handle so young boys who
carried them would look effeminate and be laughed at by their older
brother’s friends. Just kidding. Actually the string was so the boxes
could be hung on Christmas trees. It’s true. Before there were Snoopy,
Simpsons, and Hooters Christmas ornaments people hung cookies on the
tree. Of course that was after they’d tried loaves of bread, kettles
of soup, and glazed hams with limited success.
Everyone knows what animal crackers
are. They’re the small, dry, tasteless cookies which teach children
that it’s okay to bite animals in the butt. Is it any wonder cats are
scared of children? But even if for some reason you didn’t eat them
when you were growing up—like maybe your parents were communists—you
undoubtedly heard Shirley Temple in the movie Curly Top when she
sang about putting them in her soup.
Over the years 37
different animals have been depicted on the crackers, though at the
moment there are only 17. That means 20 animal cracker animals are
This is not only one of the first examples of product placement
in a movie, it’s also a decidedly disgusting concept. Oyster crackers,
okay. Ritz crackers, fine. But animal crackers? What next, crumbling Fig
Newtons into your egg salad? Luckily Campbell didn’t pick up on this
or they would have put out Cream of Mushroom with Animal Crackers soup.
MMMmmmmmmmmmmm good! Or maybe Duck Soup with Animal Crackers, though
that would work much better as a Marx Brothers double feature.
We all had a favorite animal whose
head we preferred to bite off. Some kids were bison biters. Others camel
chompers. Still others were hard core, dyed-in-the-wool monkey munchers.
I have a feeling there’s a scientific study buried in this which I
could use to get back some of my hard earned tax dollars in the form of
a research grant.
Think about it. A child who eats
animal crackers whole probably grows up to be well rounded. If they eat
too many, they end up too well rounded. One who eats them slowly, body
part by body part, might wind up with eating habits similar to Jeffrey
Dahmer’s. And those who refuse to eat them at all on moral grounds
probably end up as vegan members of PETA throwing red paint on people
who walk out of the house to get the morning newspaper while wearing
fuzzy bear slippers.
Over the years 37 different animals
have been depicted on the crackers, though at the moment there are only
17. That means 20 animal cracker animals are extinct, which is a
travesty. Even worse, the World Wildlife Fund couldn’t care less.
Though to be fair that may be because they aren’t aware of it. After
all, they’ve been so busy the last few years suing the World Wrestling
Federation over the use of the initials WWF that they couldn’t be
expected to pay attention to anything as mundane as vanishing animal
I’m predicting that the walrus will win. Not because I
think it’s the most deserving. Or would even be the most fun to eat.
No, I’m making this prediction based on clues left by the Nostradamus
of the Silver Screen, Shirley Temple.
Nabisco, though, is trying to help. In honor of the 100th
birthday of Barnum’s Animals they’re adding a new animal to the
line-up. And you can have a say in which one it is. You only have until
the end of the year, but if you go to www.nabiscoworld.com
you can vote on whether you’d rather chew the legs off a cobra, koala,
penguin, walrus, or Rob Schneider. Just kidding about Rob, though if
you’re one of those people who have trouble separating movies from
reality you might just think he is The Animal.
This is actually a pretty important
decision. Maybe not as important as whether to buy your nephew a gas
mask, a 60-day supply of Cipro, or (True Fact Alert!) the new Honey Nut
Cheerios Spelling Bee Game for Christmas, but it’s close. After all,
the Nabisco factory in Fair Lawn, New Jersey turns out 300,000 animal
crackers an hour, which is 40 million packages a year, or one for every
man, woman, and child who looks at any given cracker and says, “Is
that shapeless lump a rhinoceros or a kangaroo?” Hey, that’s a lot
of crackers. I mean, cookies.
I’m predicting that the
walrus will win. Not because I think it’s the most deserving. Or would
even be the most fun to eat. No, I’m making this prediction based on
clues left by the Nostradamus of the Silver Screen, Shirley Temple. In
her song about animal crackers she sings, “The Grocer is so big and
fat. He has a big moustache. He looks just like a walrus, just before he
takes a splash.” She doesn’t mention a cobra, koala, penguin, or Rob
Schneider. Though come to think of it the fourth verse does seem to hint
at impending Armageddon. Pass another rhinoceros cookie this way, will
©2001 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them while biting the head off a hippo cracker.