Here’s a delicious Dayton connection: the Cheez-It was born here 100 years ago.
The cracker — square in shape and orange in color — was invented by the Green & Green Company in 1921, but its origin goes back even further.
In 1847 Dr. William Wolf of Dayton determined his patients with dietary restrictions needed a different kind of food, Steve Lucht, a curator at Dayton History, said.
To fill the need, Dr. Wolf created his own food, a hard butter cracker that became known as the Dayton Cracker.
Dr. Wolf’s cracker became so popular it kicked off the growth of the cracker-baking industry in the city, according to research done by Dayton History, the local nonprofit organization that oversees Carillon Historical Park.
“Making crackers was always a thing people did,” Lucht said. “As long as you keep them nice and sealed, they stayed fresh for a long time.”
Weston Green and his father, John, purchased Dr. Wolf’s company, The Wolf Cracker Bakery, and renamed it Green & Green. The company would become known for making hardtack, a cracker-like bread, for American military during World War I.
Green & Green later expanded into cookies and cakes and discovered consumers had a desire for a crackers that were more “delicate and flakier” than the Dayton Cracker.
The company developed the Edgemont Cracker line, which made graham wafers, ginger snaps, and in 1921 introduced the Cheez-It.
The trio of snacks was described as “equally dainty, delicious and satisfying” in a 1930 newspaper advertisement.
Through the decades, the Green & Green Cheez-It brand changed hands numerous times until it was purchased by The Kellogg Company in 2001.
Today, the popular Cheez-It snack comes in dozens of flavors, shapes and sizes.
“I think if you asked anyone in the United States to name a cheese-flavored cracker, one of the first things they would say is Cheez-Its,” Lucht said.
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