It’s National Cheese Day!: Let’s celebrate the Cheez-It! The crispy crackers were invented in Dayton 100 years ago

The Cheez-It cracker was invented in Dayton in 1921 by the Greene & Greene Company. This snack can, circa 1929, is on display at Carillon Historical Park.  LISA POWELL / DAYTON DAILY NEWS
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The Cheez-It cracker was invented in Dayton in 1921 by the Greene & Greene Company. This snack can, circa 1929, is on display at Carillon Historical Park. LISA POWELL / DAYTON DAILY NEWS

Here’s a delicious Dayton connection: the Cheez-It was born here 100 years ago.

Today, on National Cheese Day, let’s celebrate the origins of the the crispy delight.

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.


According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the first Cheez-It Cheese Crackers were sold by The Green & Green Company of Dayton in May 1921. The company, which had started business in 1896, was better known for their Edgemont crackers and for its nutty-flavored Dayton cracker, which was stamped with the name  Dayton .
Caption
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the first Cheez-It Cheese Crackers were sold by The Green & Green Company of Dayton in May 1921. The company, which had started business in 1896, was better known for their Edgemont crackers and for its nutty-flavored Dayton cracker, which was stamped with the name Dayton .

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

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.

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“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.

The Green & Green Company invented the Cheez-It in 1921. The company was known for making hardtack, a cracker-like bread, for American military during WW I. This advertisement for the company was published in the Dayton Daily News on July 14, 1918.
Caption
The Green & Green Company invented the Cheez-It in 1921. The company was known for making hardtack, a cracker-like bread, for American military during WW I. This advertisement for the company was published in the Dayton Daily News on July 14, 1918.

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.

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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.