A saltine or soda cracker is a thin, usually square cracker made
from white flour, shortening, yeast, and baking soda, with most
varieties lightly sprinkled with coarse salt. It has perforations
throughout its surface, to allow steam to escape for uniform rising,
and along the edges, as individual crackers are broken from larger
sheets during manufacture. It has a very dry and crisp texture, as
it is made with less shortening than varieties such as Ritz
Some familiar brand names of saltine crackers in the United States
are Christie's Premium Plus, Nabisco's Premium, Sunshine's Krispy
and Keebler's Zesta. Low-sodium saltines as well as unsalted-top
versions are commonly available. Whole grain saltines can also be
found. In the United Kingdom they were made by Huntley and Palmers,
and in New Zealand under Arnott's Salada. There are also Arnott's
Saltines are often eaten as a light snack,
with cheese or peanut butter. They may also be dipped or crumbled in
stews, chilis, soups or dips, or crumbled into salads. Typically
they are sold in boxes containing two to four stacks of crackers
wrapped in a sleeve of waxed paper or plastic. In restaurants, they
are found in small wrapped packets of two crackers, which generally
accompany soup or salad.
As a home remedy, saltines are consumed by many in order to ease
nausea and to settle an upset stomach. Pregnant women are also
usually advised to snack on saltines.
Soda crackers, also called "premium
flake" and "saltina" crackers, date back at least to the 19th
century. Premium Saltines, originally called Premium Soda Crackers,
originated in 1876 in St. Joseph, Missouri.
In the United States, the word "saltine" was originally registered
as a trademark by Nabisco, which absorbed the Premium brand, but it
lost trademark protection after the term began to be used
generically to refer to similar crackers. In Australia, Arnott's
Biscuits Holdings still holds a trademark on the name "Saltine."
Saltines have been compared to
hardtack, a simple unleavened cracker or biscuit made from flour,
water, and salt. However, unlike hardtack, saltines actually do
include yeast as one of their ingredients. Soda crackers are a
leavened bread that is allowed to rise for twenty to thirty hours.
After the rise, alkaline soda is added to neutralize the excessive
acidity produced by the action of the yeast. The dough is allowed to
rest for three to four more hours, to relax the gluten, before being
rolled in layers and then baked.