Is Hardtack just a Big Cracker?

In his book Good to Eat, in the chapter on eating insects, anthropologist Marvin Harris describes the ways chimpanzees eat termites, after “fishing” them out of a mound on a stick --They scrape the termites off by pulling the stick between thumb and forefinger, giving them a palmful of bewildered, squirming termites, which they then pop into their mouths and chew furiously… They chew furiously because, if they don’t, the termites will bite their tongue and the inside of the mouth, and that HURTS.

If you read the Horatio Hornblower novels of C. S. Forester, he frequently describes how the sailors used to tap the biscuits on the table to drive the weevils out. In one of the later books in the series, after Hornblower has become a wealthy officer, his wife buys him tin containers of “superfine biscuit”. Being sealed in a tin, the biscuits are safe from weevils, which can’t get in.

This doesn’t seem to have been addressed in the thread yet, but no, the parrot in Treasure Island doesn’t say “Polly want a cracker”. The expression is attested from at least 1849, over thirty years before Treasure Island was published.

I wouldn’t call this a cracker. A biscuit, sure, but not a cracker.

Some kinds of hard tack are crackers. But others, not so much.

Purity hard bread!

The pride of Newfoundland.

Awful, pointless stuff.

Come on, man, fish and brewis is the bomb.

Steve FTW!

I am not sure but I think that hardtack would kosher for Passover. There is no yeast and the dough is not left to rise.

You’ve had it?

I finally realized it’s called unleavened instead of unrisened for a reason. The yeast softens the flour first, in a pre-digestive process. This enzyme reaction is sometimes called ‘leavening’, and ‘unleavened bread’ is bread that has not been softened (which is why it is harder, and has a different effect on your digestion).

This is one of the reasons why, when making bread, you punch it down, then leave it to rise again.

Partially pre-digested flour is also, of course, unstable and susceptible to biological attack, which is one reason why people make hardtack instead of bread.

This was vividly described by John Fisher, who after becoming First Lord of the Royal Navy introduced daily bread baking aboard ships.

Hard Tack was a racehorse best known for being the sire of the champion Seabiscuit.

*Hard Tack’s dam (mother) was Tea Biscuit; his sire was Man O’War.

I have, plenty of times. It’s a bit bland. The scruncheons are good, though.

Regularly. I am a Newfoundlander, after all. (Two or three times a year, when I was living in Ontario, more if I was visiting home…now I’m living here again, so probably more in future.)