Why were Graham Crackers invented? The bizarre origins of the American snack explained

The humble snack is the subject of a curious origin story

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 11:11 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 10:09 am
Graham Crackers are a key ingredient of camper dessert 'smore's' (Shutterstock)

In the latest bizarre social media trend users are imploring each other to research why Graham Crackers were invented.

Today, the humble American snack is a key ingredient is a key component of the saccharine dessert s’mores.

But originally the cracker was created with an entirely different purpose in mind.

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Why were Graham Crackers invented?

The sweet flavoured cracker, made from flour, salt, oil, lard and molasses, was inspired by Sylvester Graham, a key figure in the 19th century temperance movement.

Graham encouraged the creation of the famously plain snack with the intention of tempering people’s sexual desires,

He believed that following a healthy, plant-based diet,devoid of pleasure and stimulation was how god intended humans to live. This diet was grounded in the use of bread made from coarsely ground wheat at home.

Graham believed that following such a diet would discourage masturbation, which he believed lead to blindness and early death.

The teachings of Graham would inspire nutritionist John Harvey Kellogg who, along with his brother Will, invented corn flakes. The plain and bland cereal would become a staple of breakfast diets across the world.

It’s worth noting that while corn flakes were part of Kellogg’s wider call for a plain and bland diet, they were never advertised as an anaphrodisiac.

Who was Sylvester Graham?

A presbyterian minister, Graham emerged as a dietary reformer in the early 19th century.

His calls for a plain and bland diet garnered him many supporters who were known as Grahamites.

Graham is also credited with founding one of the first vegetarianism movements in the United States and is regarded by some as the “Father of Vegetarianism”.

Alongside a stimulant-free diet, Graham encouraged followers to engage in a comfort-free lifestyle, avoiding warm baths and sleeping on hard beds.

Graham’s death in 1851 is subject to much speculation.

Historian Stephen Nissenbaum says that Graham died “after violating his own strictures by taking liquor and meat in a last desperate attempt to recover his health".

The New England Historical Society, however, claims that he died “after receiving opium enemas on his doctor’s orders.”