This article was written by Phin Upham
Graham wafers date back to the 1870s. These crackers were made of graham flour, consisting of unsifted wheat flour that contained the bran of the wheat kernels. Graham flour gets its name from Sylvester Graham, a reverend from the early 1800s who advocated healthy dieting and the virtues of cooking for oneself.
Graham tried to manifest this movement rather ironically with a getaway he called Graham hotels. These establishments served a very strict diet which was very much in-line with the temperance movement of the day. This was in 1830, but soon everyone had heard of Graham Bread and a slightly thinner kind of cookie called a Graham cracker.
Graham would have identified well with today’s farm to table movement. He was a very big advocate of the vegetarian lifestyle, especially whole grains and fruits, and believed it would restore one’s health. When Graham was promoting the same kind of health science we take for granted today, bakers were just as likely to put alum in bread as they were to use copper sulfate.
In the olden days, Graham crackers were made very much like a sea biscuit. The dough would be spread thin and then baked until hardening. The Graham cracker added one important step to the process, which was to use the moisture from boiling water pots as a method of softening up the cookie.
Although the Graham cracker was and still is sold by other companies, Nabisco manages to be the business with the largest market share for Graham crackers.