Round Saltines have been showing up on supermarket shelves throughout New England.
After a century of quadrilaterality, Nabisco is test-marketing the new geometry. If it’s well received in the region, there could be a national roll out by the end of the year. This is no mere addition to the Saltine product line—the round crackers will replace the original squares.
Nabisco company spokesman Basil T. Maglaris calls the round crackers “relevant and contemporary.”
He seems to be missing the point.
Saltines are innocuous, familiar, and bland, which is precisely why we eat them. They’re the stuff of home remedies and kindergarten snacks. At restaurants we’ll crumble a cellophane two-pack into soups and stews, and at home we’ll eat them with peanut butter while we stand over the sink. Saltines are prescribed by doctors to ease nausea and settle an upset stomach, and they’re often the only food tolerated by pregnant women and anyone who wakes up with a hangover.
Cutting corners, both literal and figurative
On a pragmatic note, there’s the matter of the missing corners. The round crackers have a lot less area than the square ones, but there are no more of them in the box. The old 16 ounce package has been replaced by one that weighs a mere 10.5 ounces, but the retail price has stayed the same.
Nabisco has been strangely silent on the subject of the re-engineered crackers. There’s no advertising campaign or marketing promotion and the company didn’t issue the typical press releases. Not a twitter has been sent, and there is no round Saltine Facebook page for you to ‘like.’ Even the company website shows no trace of round Saltines.
By this time next year, the iconic, four-sided, salt-dimpled cracker might be history.
Nabisco’s Mr. Maglaris did say that concerned customers could contact the company’s hotline at 1-800-NABISCO.