The Crazy Reason Why Graham Crackers Were Invented

The crazy reason why graham crackers were invented explores the beliefs of the cracker’s namesake, Minister Sylvester Graham. Have a seat, you’re not gonna be expecting what he thought graham crackers could do.

: ghinassi

Graham crackers have a wholesome, innocent image. Children dunking them in milk. Kids huddled around a campfire squishing chocolate and toasted marshmallows between them to make S’mores. But a Twitter and TikTok trend has drawn attention to the bizarre origins of the world-famous and, quite possibly, world’s favorite cracker.

Well, of course, we were just as curious as the next guy, so we did as instructed. Oy…what a salacious rabbit hole we went down.

Who invented graham crackers?

Graham crackers, the hallmark of American childhoods, were inspired by the preachings of the 19th-century Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham. Graham, a devout follower of the Temperance Movement of the time, believed in eating a wholesome plant-based diet that included whole-grain bread. Often considered the Father of Vegetarianism, he inspired like-minded folks to make graham flour (unsifted, unrefined, and unbleached whole-wheat flour), from which the crackers are made. So while Graham didn’t personally invent the graham cracker, he is considered its culinary father.

Why did Graham believe in eating whole grains?

This is where it gets interesting–and a bit kinky. Building upon his Temperance views, Graham created his own theology that sticking with a diet of pure water, fresh vegetables, and homemade whole-grain bread–all prepared without spices and stimulants–along with sleeping on board-hard beds and avoiding warm baths lead to a serene life.

He was convinced eating such wholesome foods–including crackers made from graham flour–would temper (there’s that word again) excitement in general. And, more specifically, he believed his diet was a surefire way to discourage sexual arousal and the urge to, um, masturbate, which only led to blindness and certain early death. (Uh, yeah, that’s what we thought, too.)

His beliefs may sound absurd today, but they were so popular at the time, a swell of acolytes called Gramhamites popped up around him and last for decades. One of them was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who later went on to invent the famously bland corn flakes–originally intended as an anaphrodisiac–to quell sexual pleasure.

Make your own crackers

Now, Lord knows we’re not making a statement on your sexual life by saying this, but we’re all for homemade graham crackers. And we think you should try your, um, hand at it.

A pile of homemade graham crackers on a marble table with a glass of milk nearby : Alice Gao

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Comments

  1. So is this why Tony the Tiger says, “They’re Great!” with so much enthusiasm after eating “non-bland” Frosted (corn) Flakes? 😳😉😉

    GREAT article! Thanks for the food knowledge and entertainment this morning!

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