Every child loves animal crackers, those sweet and crunchy animal-shaped biscuits. But are they compatible with a Paleo diet? Some people might think they already know the answer, but consider this: our ancestors evolved on the African savanna, eating the plants and animals found there. Inside each box of animal crackers is an assortment of tiny savanna creatures such as giraffes and elephants.
To get to the bottom of this, I interviewed Robert Pearson, CEO of Animal Cracker Products Inc., who explained to me how these crackers are made.
What's the history of animal crackers?
In 19th century Britain, a clever entrepreneur had the idea to make animal-shaped sweet biscuit snacks. These became so popular that they were eventually exported to the US. Manufacturers eventually began producing them domestically. Today, Animal Cracker Products Inc. shares the US market with Nabisco, Keebler, and Stauffer, but our cracker is the only one that's still made from 100 percent animals-- the other products are up to 30 percent filler.Can you explain how animal crackers are made?
The details are proprietary, but here's the general process. First, we take baby animals and put them in a special patented press. We apply high pressure for 17 hours, until they're flat and reduced in size. We then dry them in the California sun for one week, which produces the characteristic texture and beige color.How do you choose which animals to include?
Our primary market is children. Focus groups have shown that children prefer crackers made from giraffes, elephants, and tigers to warthogs, opossums, and sloths.Thanks for your time Robert!
We also choose animals that allow us to produce a product at a reasonable price point. People love African savanna animals but they're expensive, so we mix them with less expensive animals like horses, bears, and sheep. If there's enough interest in the Paleo community, we would consider making an all-African cracker mix, but the cost would be 50-70 percent higher.
Tiny animals? What could be more Paleo than that??
Photo credit: S. Diddy (Flickr CC).