What Does Polly Want?

Polly want a: (1) Cornbread, (2) Calzone, (3) Cracker?

When Nabisco began making saltines they coined the slogan, "Polly want a cracker". There are different views on what this means but one source states it involves a parrot named Polly, thus the painting seen here. The brushes used were Square Chalk and Thick Wet Impasto.

This painting highlights the parrot. This text highlights the cracker, a shy, unassuming morsel that inspires no painting of its own. It gets little respect even though versions have been eaten for centuries. One is hardtack. This was a staple on sea voyages due to its superhero longevity. In the late 1800s, yeast was added to the mix. This change gave rise to the thin, crispy, soda biscuit that is enjoyed today.

Saltines were initially displayed for sale in barrels holding hundreds of unwrapped, dusty crackers. A customer could purchase a handful or a sack full. Crackers had only modest success for the first few decades. But then the Great Depression came along when jobs were scarce and so was food. Soup kitchens sprang up. To feed the masses, soup was thinned to serve as many as possible. As a result, it did not stick to the ribs for long, but that helped boost the popularity of the cracker. A stack could be bought for a few pennies and crumbled into the watered down soup to form a cheap, tasty filler. For many, this was their only meal of the day. Times were hard but hard times toughens resolve. This strengthening of national determination would prove invaluable and ultimately decisive because lying in wait just over the horizon was World War II.