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The History of Cheez-Its

In 1841, Dr. William W. Wolf moved to Dayton, Ohio to practice homeopathy and began producing the Wolf Cracker, which was a hard-butter snack that he created for medicinal purposes (like many cracker makers at the time, he believed they would promote values of temperance and aid digestion). However, the crackers soon became popular not just with his patients, but with the general population. Dayton natives J.W. and Weston Green were notable fans. In 1897, when Wolf passed away, J.W. Green purchased the Wolf Bakery Company and brought his son, Weston Green, into the venture. They renamed the business Green & Green Company and renamed the cracker the Dayton Cracker, but kept Wolf’s recipe the same. During World War I, their company produced a different product called Dayton’s Fighting Bread to help sustain soldiers fighting overseas. After the Great War, Green & Green launched a new “Edgemont” product line of grahams, crackers, and gingersnaps that were shipped across the region. The line also included a flaky one-by-one-inch cheese cracker. On May 23, 1921, Green & Green trademarked that cracker and the Cheez-It was born. The crackers were originally promoted under the name “baked rarebit,” which was a dish made of melted cheddar beer cheese spread over toast that people would have been very familiar with at the time, unlike the name Cheez-It. Green & Green advertised their crackers as a shelf-stable, filling, and affordable version of this dish. The product appealed to Americans struggling during the economic downturn that occurred right after World War I. It remained popular throughout the postwar recession, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression. In 1932, Green & Green sold the business to Kansas City’s Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, which became the Sunshine Biscuit Company in 1947 — a noted rival of the juggernaut Nabisco. In 1996, Keebler acquired Sunshine, and in 2001, Kellogg acquired Keebler. The original Cheez-It packaging was green and white. Red was introduced to the brand logo in the 1930s and by the 1940s, the box included the iconic red and yellow-orange colors that are still used in Cheez-It branding today. The general shape and appearance of the crackers have also not changed much since their introduction. Today, Cheez-Its now sell over 400 million packages in the U.S. alone each year and are still a massively popular snack, despite the fact that they were introduced over 100 years ago.

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