Graham Crackers Were Actually Invented For This Unexpected Reason

Photographed by Will Anderson.
Although now graham crackers make up the important base components of one of the tastiest summertime treats, they started out as something totally different. Originally, they weren’t even meant to be enjoyed. According to a new video from Great Big Story: Flavors, the real purpose of the graham cracker was to suppress sexual urges. Wait, what?

Apparently Sylvester Graham, a prominent 19th-century Presbyterian minister, believed that alcohol, meat, sugar, and other fatty foods led to greed and lust. (I guess he didn't know that, for many people, the love of food and sex are at odds with each other.)

Graham took to preaching that eating flavorless food was the key to controlling your sexual appetite. And that's why he came up with the original recipe for graham crackers, which were made with flour, wheat germ, and bran. The crackers contained no sugar and were boring, bland, and just all-around bleh. Despite this, graham crackers became pretty popular and, as the video points out, fans of the snack weirdly took to calling themselves Grahamites.

So how did we go from this grainy, gross concoction to the sweet, toasty squares of today? According to Great Big Story's clip, after Sylvester Graham died in 1851, the cracker went through a few changes until eventually, the National Biscuit Company, a.k.a. Nabisco, added honey and made it into the s'mores staple we know and love. Thanks for that save, Nabisco. (First We Feast)

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