Going to the Birds… and the Hippo, and the Rhinoceros


Animal Crackers



Shirley Temple ~ you will be missed!


Animal Crackers
by Christopher Morley.

“Animal crackers and cocoa to drink,
That is the finest of suppers I think;
When I’m grown up and can have what I please
I think I shall always insist upon these.
What do YOU choose when you’re offered a treat?
When Mother says, “What would you like best to eat?”
Is it waffles and syrup, or cinnamon toast?
It’s cocoa and animals that I love most!

The kitchen’s the cosiest place that I know;
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see
The cocoa and animals waiting for me.

Daddy and Mother dine later in state,
With Mary to cook for them, Susan to wait;
But they don’t have nearly as much fun as I
Who eat in the kitchen with Nurse standing by;
And Daddy once said, he would like to be me
Having cocoa and animals once more for tea!”

The product we know today as Animal Crackers came into being in 1902, but it they had existed in similar forms for generations. In the late 1800s, ‘Animals’ (animal shaped fancy cookies) were imported from England. Many of the small, local bakeries in America made different versions called ‘Animals’ or ‘Circus Crackers’. Bakeries began to unite into larger companies with regional and eventual national distribution at the end of the 19th century. One of these was the National Biscuit Company. Packaging became an important factor in marketing on a national scale. Their ‘Animal Biscuits’ were officially renamed ‘Barnum’s Animals’ in 1902. During the Christmas season, the package was redesigned as a circus wagon with a string attached to it, so it could be hung as a Christmas tree ornament. They sold for 5 cents, and they were an immediate hit.

In total there have been 37 different varieties of animal crackers since 1902.  The current 17 varieties of crackers are  tigers, cougars, camels, rhinoceros, kangaroos, hippopotami, bison, lions, hyenas, zebras, elephants, sheep, bears, gorillas, monkeys, seals, and giraffes. There are 22 crackers per box.

More than 40 million packages of these are sold each year, and they are exported to 17 countries. They are turned out at the rate of 12,000 per minute, and nearly 6,000 miles of string are used on the packages.

The most famous reference to Animal Crackers is most likely in the Shirley Temple film ‘Curleytop’, in which she sang “Animal crackers in my soup, Monkeys and rabbits loop the loop, Gosh, oh, gee, but I have fun! “

I usually don’t join the band wagon on “National… Day”, but I thought this one was worth it.  Who doesn’t like animal crackers?  I’ll still grab a box or two when we are beach bound or camping; and they’re not always for the kiddos!

Today, I will be making this version, found on http://www.allrecipes.com, with a few modifications (blended whole grain & oat flours instead of all-purpose, chia seeds). I am providing the recipe in it’s original format for you to play around with, or not. enjoy ~ v


1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grind oats until fine using a blender or food processor.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the blended oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers until the butter lumps are smaller than peas. Stir in the buttermilk and honey to form a stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes in the preheated oven, until edges are lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

For my “Gluten-Free” folks, I have found a great blog, glutenfreeonashoestring.com, that offers this great gluten-free version. And if you go to her blog, I spied a chocolate version as well!

Vanilla Animal Crackers
By: Nicole @ Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.com
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  8 mins
Total time:  18 mins
Gluten-free vanilla animal crackers
  • 1½ cups (210g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (12g) cultured buttermilk blend (I use Saco brand)
  • Dash (1/8 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (55g) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute pure vanilla extract)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk blend, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add butter, egg and vanilla, and mix to combine until the dough begins to come together. It is a really smooth, silky dough. As it comes together, it might feel like all of the dry ingredients won’t come together in the dough. Knead it, and it will.
  3. Place the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper, and roll out until about ¼ inch thick. Place the dough, still covered in parchment on both sides, in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. When the dough is firm, cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place cut outs less than an inch apart on prepared baking sheet (they won’t spread much during baking), and place the baking sheet in the freezer once again until very firm once again, about another 5 minutes.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned on top and golden brown around the edges, rotating once during baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until firm, about 5 minutes.
  5. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.


This recipe can be doubled easily. If you don’t chill the dough before cutting out shapes, it will be unnecessarily difficult to do so. If you don’t chill the dough after cutting out shapes and before baking, the cookies will spread more than they should, lose their shape and be way too crispy.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on delectablediction and commented:

    dedicated to the late Shirley Temple


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