Crackers were just shipped as generic items in barrels to general stores in North America, where they would be sold by the handful.
It was a man named Adolphus Green who decided in 1898 that he didn't want his crackers to be anonymous. He had his crackers made in octagonal shapes so that they would stand out from the square ones, and he sold them in a waxed paper lined box. He called them "Uneeda Biscuits." He used the word biscuit rather than cracker to be a little more upmarket. Green's method of packaging ensured that the crackers reached the customer's home fresh; bulk-sold crackers in a barrel were often stale. And so began the decline and disappearance of the Cracker Barrel.
At the time he was President of the National Biscuit Company, formed by a merger between the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company and the New York Biscuit Company that same year. Three years later, by 1901, the company was being referred to as Nabisco, taking the first few letters in each word of "National Biscuit Company", though Nabisco didn't replace National Biscuit Company legally until a corporate name change in 1971.
Cracker Barrel Restaurants and Stores were started in 1969 in Lebanon, Tennessee by Dan Evins.
Cracker Barrel is now used to mean informal discussions; it is also sometimes used dismissively, as in "a cracker-barrel philosopher", meaning like a water-cooler philosopher. The idea was that people would gather around the Cracker Barrel, in the same way that today they gather around water-coolers in offices to while away the working days.
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