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.)