While the following tale may strike some as a rather frivolous situation, it has nonetheless remained a bone of contention with me for multiple years now. What began as a harmless, quirky observation on my part, has since metamorphosed into an obsession of immense proportions; the explanation for which I have yet to stumble upon. Suffice it to say, were it not for the time consuming responsibilities of marriage and child rearing over the past few decades, I may have long ago driven myself mad searching for a logical answer.
I will preface this story with the statement of fact that I rather enjoy and prefer the enticing flavor of Chicken-in-a-Biskit snack crackers. Not that I can find anything wrong with Ritz or Wheat Thins or plain old saltines — they each hold a prominent spot on my pantry shelf. But when that gnawing, almost out of control craving strikes, absolutely nothing can curtail it quite like one of Nabisco’s tasty poultry treats.
I have enjoyed them for countless years and in an unlimited number of ways. I’ve smeared them with peanut butter or dipped them in warm nacho cheese. They’ve been s’mored, drizzled with chocolate or served with salami and Swiss. I’ve crumbled them over salad, on baked potatoes and in soups. And once, finding myself alone on a Friday night and in the midst of a culinary experimentation mood, I actually coated a pork chop in crushed “Biskits” before pan frying. Here, I must put the emphasis on “once.”
The conundrum I have found myself in is as follows: I’m quite positive that nearly everyone who has children or grandchildren, in order to make bearable a long trip or to provide the least disruptive cure for the dreaded tantrum-during-communion, has passed out their share of Goldfish crackers — those dry, cheesy little baked snacks shaped like goldfish. There were also Teddy Grahams (a staple of the elementary school sack lunch) plain or frosted, cut out to resemble cute Teddy Bears. I’m guessing one can still buy animal crackers, which are supposedly representative of various, real, animal kingdom species, though I’ve never viewed any of these beasts in a zoo. (On another note, if you can’t determine if the cracker you’re holding is a moose or an otter, I’m thinking the cookie cutter engineering team was a bit lax in their research and design.)
You may purchase Mrs. Butterworth syrup in an anatomically correct glass decanter. There are gummy worms and Flintstone vitamins. Fish sticks are shaped like ... well ... sticks, and seeing as how the last fish stick I ate was more than 30 years ago, my fading memory reminds me their taste was very similar to that of a lightly breaded birch twig. I’m not so sure even, that in a bind, they may have been used as kindling when building a fire. And if anyone saw fit to complain of their situation, the old folks were always ready with this classic piece of wisdom ... “Well, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp (fish) stick.”
But I digress. The whole point I’m trying to make ... the marketing misrepresentation I’m attempting to shed light upon ... the questionable advertising ploy I wish to expose ... is this: How can the fine folks at Nabisco label these as Chicken-in-a-Biskit, when they resemble neither a chicken nor a biscuit?
Unleavened chicken crisp; poultry nips; Wafer-O-Rooster; all reasonable and accurate product names. Perhaps a write in campaign to Nabisco is in order to resolve this aggravation. Or maybe my wife is correct (again). If I spend my days contemplating the shape of snack foods, I just may have way too much free time on my hands.
Chuck Mason, a self-described opinionated wiseguy, resides in Princeton. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.