Chocolate Animals (Chocolate Animal Crackers)

Chocolate-covered animal crackers on plateWhen were animal crackers invented? Until I saw a recipe for Chocolate Animals (Chocolate Animal Crackers) in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I’d never given it any thought.

I knew that animal crackers have been around for a long time (or in other words, since I was a child), but I would have guessed that they were invented mid-century. However, the recipe in the 1920 cookbook suggests that they have been around much longer.

This led me to check what it said in Wikipedia. I was surprised to discover that animal crackers have been around since the late 1800’s. It also said:

Animal biscuit crackers were made and distributed under the National Biscuit Company banner. In 1902, animal crackers officially became known as “Barnum’s Animals” and evoked the familiar circus theme of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Later in 1902, the now-familiar box was designed for the Christmas season with the innovative idea of attaching a string to hang from the Christmas tree.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Chocolate Animals
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries (1920)

I used a small (2.125 ounce box) of animal crackers when I made this recipe, so I only needed a little chocolate. If I’d made more Chocolate Animal Crackers I would have need to use more. chocolate.

The old recipe describes a process for making tempered chocolate. This is necessary to get a smooth, glossy coating – or chocolate melting wafers or chocolate candy coating can be used. I generally try to be true to old recipes – but ended up deciding that making a small batch of a fun recipe was the time to make an exception – so I went with the melting chocolate waters.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Chocolate Animals (Chocolate Animal Crackers)

animal crackers

chocolate melting wafers / chocolate coating

Put a piece of waxed paper on a plate. Set aside.

Using the microwave or low heat on the stove, melt enough chocolate to coat the animal crackers. (If a small 2.125 ounce box of crackers is used, melt about 1/2 cup of chocolate.) Dip the animal crackers in the melted chocolate, and then place on the waxed paper-covered plate.

Let the chocolate thoroughly cool and harden before serving. (I put the plate of chocolate-covered crackers in the refrigerator for a few minutes to quickly harden the chocolate.)

37 thoughts on “Chocolate Animals (Chocolate Animal Crackers)

  1. I’d forgotten those boxes of animal crackers hung from the Christmas tree. I got those a couple of years, along with those ‘books’ of Lifesavers. I just looked, and was amazed to find that Lifesavers go back to 1912!

    1. Thanks for reminding me of those those books of Lifesavers. I loved to look at the various rolls of candy – and carefully mull over – which flavor I wanted to eat next.

  2. This is a wonderful idea, and I just bought a box of GF Arrowroot Animal Crackers! I may try melting semi-sweet chocolate chips for dipping, because all of us “children” are all over 21 : ) Also, is paraffin paper similar to waxed paper?

    1. What a great a great idea to melt chocolate chips for dipping! I made the assumption that paraffin paper was old terminology for waxed paper, but I’m really not sure.

  3. I’ve always just eaten a square of chocolate between two animal crackers… I guess if I wanted to make it fancy I’d do this. I remember the box with the string as being a special treat!

  4. I am not surprised they have been around so long. I think children appreciate just a plain box of the animal crackers, without adding the chocolate. And you can tell what animal it is better without the chocolate šŸ˜€

    1. I think that you may be right. I know that when I made this recipe that I was a little disappointed because the chocolate obscured the shapes of the animals – and I could no longer tell which was the lion and which was the hippo, whch was the elephant and which was the bear, etc.

  5. Now that’s interesting! I just thought they were old because they were around when I was a child (and face it, I’m old). I had no idea they’d been around since the 1800s! I never thought of coating them in chocolate either, but that sounds delicious.

  6. I remember the pretty little boxes that they came in, it was a special day when Mom would buy us a box, then I did the same for our children…. picnics or school trips. I would have never guess they have been around that long. Chocolate covered would add a nice touch to the cookies.

  7. Perfect timing for me to read this. I’ll make them tomorrow. My grandkids are coming this weekend. We already have animal crackers in the pantry. Now I just need the chocolate. Thanks!

  8. Not only do I appreciate your updates to recipes, I always learn something new when I stop by. I didn’t know that the famous box for animal crackers was originally designed for the Christmas season to attach the string to hang from the Christmas tree.

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