Ritz Crackers! Lady Scout cookies! Fig Newtons! The local baking legends driving some of the nation’s most legendary treats.

philadelphia snack foods

A person snack foodstuff with stunning Philly roots? Animal crackers. Photograph by Tinsleyphoto/Getty Images

Philly isn’t just about the background of The us. This town has also been a hotbed of business baking innovation, with locals contributing to the development of all types of delicious treats now recognized all over the world — and one particular now-vanished but substantially-lamented specialty. Get all set, ’cause it’s crunch time!

OTC Crackers

Again in the day, Philly was the Oyster Capital of the Environment — there have been extra than 300 oyster homes in the city in the early 20th century. And whether or not you were being at Previous Initial Bookbinder’s in Previous City or the Middle City Bookbinders, OTC was there: rock-challenging minor nuggets of not substantially a lot more than flour and h2o and salt. There was ordinarily a tall glass urn whole of the matters at the bar where you waited for your desk, and there were being a lot more when you acquired to that table, together with a little glass dish of horseradish. You made use of the ceramic spoon to slather some horseradish atop a cracker, then little bit into it, praying that your teeth survived the face. Then you tossed a couple of the ping-pong-ball-shaped crackers into your stew, wherever they steadily softened — up to a point.

OTC crackers were the brainchild of a British immigrant who offered them doorway-to-door from a wagon Union soldiers snacked on the crackers throughout the Civil War. Produced in Trenton by the Outdated Trenton Cracker (see? OTC) Organization, they were being strictly a regional specialty, with 80 percent of gross sales in the Philly space. Alas, times transform, and in the mid-2010s, the baker that produced the crackers dropped the brand. A substitute was discovered, but its version was — gad! — rectangular, not orbital, and customers at the city’s couple remaining oyster houses have been appalled. (“You in some cases really do not realize how passionate men and women are until eventually you modify some thing,” Sam Mink, owner of the Oyster Bar, instructed the Inquirer in 2019.) When we ended up expanding up, there was often a bag of OTC crackers in the snack drawer — likely since our mom could count on them currently being the one food none of us young children would willingly gorge on. Continue to, we’re sad they’re absent.

Sweetzels Spiced Wafers

This is a different of those foods that are so ubiquitous below in our hometown that you just kind of suppose they exist in other places. Not so. Sweetzels, headquartered in Flourtown, is strictly a regional bakery, and even its president admits that the title of his specialty can be complicated past our environs. “Outside the place, they genuinely really don’t know what a spiced wafer is,” Rob Borzillo told the Chestnut Hill Regional previously this yr. The firm is redesigning that iconic orange-and-black box for a planned rollout over and above the location beginning in August. Incidentally, Sweetzels would make Lemon Drops and a perniciously delightful very little Mini Ginger Creme sandwich cookie, both of those of which we discover excellent to the pumpkin-spice-latte-esque first. But probably which is just us.

Asher’s Chocolate-Coated Pretzels

Chester A. Asher was a down-property Canadian farm boy when he began his sweet firm in downtown Philly in 1892. It grew like topsy, partly by providing the extravagant candy counters that just about every department keep had again then. Chester’s 4 sons took above the company in the wake of Earth War II, adopted by two grandsons, Jack and Bob, the latter of Republican fund-raising fame. That’s a pity, since the pretzels — they appear slathered in dark, milk or white chocolate, adorned with sprinkles, nuts, toffee chips, and so forth. — are scrumptious. Just about every now and once again, we get the urge to say, “Hey! Politics be damned! Go us people pretzels!” Now, the Asher’s plant is in Souderton.

Animal Crackers

Shirley Temple or no Shirley Temple, we’d by no means put animal crackers in our soup, mainly because they’re genuinely not crackers they’re cookies. Many thanks to the Industrial Revolution, British bakers were being in a position to build what they deludedly call “biscuits” (they, much too, have been cookies) in extravagant shapes. Philly baker Walter G. Wilson took benefit of the new tech to make “Zoologicals,” a.k.a. petite animal-shaped crackers, which he offered at the Centennial Exposition in this article in town in 1876. The Nationwide Biscuit Organization, which later morphed into Nabisco, initial supplied its variation of animal crackers in 1902 and later released the common P.T. Barnum circus box, intended by artist Sydney S. Stern, who analyzed in Philly at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It transformed remarkably tiny above the several years until eventually in 2018, the bars were taken off from the animals’ cages just after protests from PETA. Stern also made the common packaging for Ritz Crackers. Speaking of which …

philadelphia snack foods

Photograph by Mike Mozart/Flickr

Ritz Crackers

In 1934, in the midst of the Excellent Depression, Nabisco introduced the Ritz Cracker, named for the posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York Metropolis and intended to evoke elegance and refinement. It was 1st baked in the company’s North Philadelphia plant and marketed here and in Baltimore as “a little taste of luxury.” By the next calendar year, Ritz Crackers ended up accessible nationwide inside 3 several years, the buttery cheese and/or peanut butter conveyances ended up the most well-known crackers in the earth. According to William Cahn, author of a treatise on the record of crackers,  packing containers of Ritz were being at the time offered by European swains to their sweethearts the way American boys proffered containers of candy.

AP Cake

There’s, um, a great deal of argument about the name of this regional treat. Does “AP” stand for “all-purpose” cake? Or for Ann Webpage, the symbol of the A&P grocery chain? Is it “AP”? “Apee”? “Apie”? Possibly an elision of “a pie cake,” because it’s usually baked in a pie tin? What ever you get in touch with it, the simple, basic cake, like a dressed-down shoo-fly pie, appears to have its origins between the Pennsylvania Dutch in our region. That is all we’ll say we’re not likely to argue more than it.

philadelphia snack foods

Photograph by Sorsillo/Getty Photos

Fig Newtons

In 2012, Nabisco announced that its “fig cake,” introduced in 1891 and named for a Massachusetts city (the Newton aspect, not the Fig), would henceforth be recognised only as “Newtons,” since the business experienced been producing alternate flavors — strawberry, apple cinnamon, raspberry, combined berry — for years. And figs aren’t a particularly common fruit among younger cookie eaters, inspite of the Biblical connections they have. As it turns out, the person who manufactured the Fig Newton possible, a guy named Charlie Roser, worked in a Philadelphia bakery in the 1890s and sold his recipe for a stuffed fig cake to the Kennedy Biscuit business, headquartered in Boston (hence the Newton title). A Floridian, James Henry Mitchell, invented the equipment that permitted mass generation of the treats by inserting the fig jam within an extruded pastry tube. Not our favorite cookie, thanks.

philadelphia snack foods

Photograph by Brian/Flickr

Lady Scout Cookies

Now we’re conversing! While credit rating for the principle of troop cookie income could lie elsewhere — the Girl Scouts business cites Muskogee, Oklahoma — it was the Philadelphia Woman Scout council’s brainstorm to bake and provide cookies in the display screen window of the city’s gas and electric powered corporation at Wide and Arch in 1932. (Gas! Energy! Ovens! Get it?) The following 12 months, the Scouts enlisted the area Keebler Firm to bake and package deal packing containers of trefoil-shaped shortbread cookies to be offered door-to-doorway. Income had been wildly profitable, and the plan went nationwide in 1936. The most well-liked wide range by significantly is the Slim Mints, which exhibits how odd individuals are, mainly because Samoas rule.