Cracking Up

People have occasionally questioned my sanity; although (being slightly delusional) I’m usually convinced that I’m okay and everybody else has the problem.  But where others have failed, a common household food actually succeeded in making me question my own sanity:  Soda crackers (also known as Saltines or water crackers, depending on where you live).  And yes, I realize it’s ironic that crackers would make me think I’m cracking up.

For years, I’ve bought the same brand of soda crackers.  Even though I experimented occasionally with other brands, I always came back to my favourite.  So, fine.

Until it wasn’t.

One day I bought a box of my usual crackers, but they tasted… blah.  I checked the box, but there was no “New And Improved” label.  (“New and Improved” is the kiss of death for me:  If I liked it before, I usually hate it after they’ve “improved” it.) But there was nothing noted on the box, so I chalked it up to a temporary aberration in my taste buds and/or a batch that had slipped through their quality control.

Until I bought the next box.  By then, I had none of the original tasty crackers to compare; only the growing conviction that they’d sneakily changed the recipe.  That’s when I started to wonder:  Maybe it was all in my head.  Maybe I was just getting old and my taste buds were packing it in.  As one of my friends used to demand when she was questioning my sanity:  “Are you on crack?!?”  I was beginning to think I might be.

But then Hubby mentioned it too.  Those damn crackers did taste different!  And not in a good way.  So I was stuck with a giant box of crackers that tasted like flour-and-water paste.  Blech.

But I solved the problem:  I got hooked on crack instead. It’s just as addictive as everybody says — I can’t leave it alone.  I promise myself I’ll avoid it, just for a day, but the need gets too strong and I succumb.  The world is a wonderful place while I’m ingesting it; and because I want to share the euphoria, I’m going to let you in on how to cook crack.  You can thank me later.  (Or hunt me down and smack me.  It could go either way.)

Crack

About 40 soda crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

Line a large shallow pan with parchment paper (be sure to go up the sides a bit – this stuff flows) and lay out the soda crackers edge to edge in a single layer on the paper.

Melt the butter, add the brown sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Then pour the hot mixture evenly over the soda crackers, covering every cracker. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the hot caramel crackers. Let them stand a minute or two until the chocolate chips soften, then spread the melted chocolate over the crackers. Let the crack cool, then break it into pieces to eat.

Options: Use milk, semi-sweet, white, or dark chocolate chips, and/or peanut butter chips; and/or sprinkle nuts and/or candy over the chocolate layer while it’s still soft.

And now I’ve used up those crappy crackers!  I like to keep my crack in the freezer – it stays lovely and crunchy, plus there are no calories in frozen food.  (Or so I prefer to believe. See ‘delusional’ above.)

Let me know how you like it… and whether I should duck the next time I see you!

29 thoughts on “Cracking Up

  1. I laughed when your head went down the path of aging and your taste buds were changing. I blame any and everything on aging…my taste buds especially until my wife reminds me I’ve always been that way. So is my memory going….no she would come back with….your memory has always sucked. OK….great recipe, but I’m not a chocolate person. Is that an aging thing or have I always been that way…..again, the love of my life would say….you never have been a chocolate person. It all seems to take the fun out of aging…..

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  2. A cup of butter?? Your crack sounds crackingly good and addictive. But, where do I find your crappy crackers? I’ve been wondering about my taste buds as well, recently. It’s like nobody is adding salt to their products anymore. Chips, pizzas, snap pea crisps… What happend to all the salt? Is blah replacing yum? Who do we call to complain? Luckily, there are creative spirits like you coming up with solutions to incorporate blah foods. I thank you for that!

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    • You know, you’re right! I didn’t realize it until you mentioned it, but even the ‘salted’ crackers are barely salted. Same with salted mixed nuts and sunflower seeds — Hubby has taken to adding powdered salt to them because they’re so wimpy now. Or we really are just getting old and losing our sense of taste; but I’m still in denial over that. 😉

      As far as the crappy crackers go, I think they’re generally called Saltines in the U.S., and Walmart USA carries several brands. Wikipedia has a description, a photo, and some brands: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltine_cracker. In Canada, most large grocery chains have their own house brands of similar crackers, so they probably do in the U.S., too. The scope for crappiness is unlimited!

      But maybe U.S. crackers are still good. I know foods like Heinz ketchup and Coke are made with different ingredients for export to Canada, and it’s always a shock when we go to the States and our usual brands brands taste different. You might be okay…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I can handle the cracker selection in the US. My favorites are a box from Trader Joe’s. No need to turn them into crack. They still contain salt. I honestly think that companies must have gotten urged (by health professionals) to use less salt in their products. This can’t be a coincidence. I’ve been noticing this trend (especially in snacks) for a little while. Either that, or the trend is that when you get older your taste buds crave more salt! 🙂

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  3. We haven’t had any Saltines or Ritz Cracker issues here, but my other half is a cracker snob–there is only one little-known brand of oyster crackers that she wants with her soup, and I have to go out of my way to track them down. I’m told the other ones break down into flavorless mush. From what I’ve seen courtesy of the Interwebz, there are a few recipes out there to turn oyster crackers into snack foods by seasoning and baking them a bit. Sadly, the last bag of oyster crackers not in favor with the queen didn’t get a chance to be “reimagined” as the rest of the bag disappeared a week or so later, and no new snacks (or crack) were to be found.

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    • Ooh, now there’s a thought! I haven’t tried oyster crackers. Are you at liberty to disclose the winning brand?

      I’ve made a similar snack mix with Goldfish crackers, mini-Ritz crackers, Crispix cereal, pretzels, roasted almonds, dill, and powdered ranch dressing mix. Also addictive…

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  4. I suppose you already made sure you hadn’t accidentally bought the unsalted variety, right? Unsalted anything is not worth buying, but crackers are especially bland. lol
    I am desperately trying to control my intake of calories but I shall not reach out and clobber you for that recipe; I’ll just make you eat 99% of the pan in my place. That oughta fix your wagon! Or maybe that’s just what you want …

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    • Muwahahaha!!! My evil plan is working! Mind you, it would be a bit of a commute to claim your pan of goodies; so I’m not sure my evil plan is an unqualified success.

      I chuckled at your comment about unsalted crackers — I actually do usually buy unsalted; and I liked them until the recipe changed. Hubby refuses to eat unsalted crackers, so we also had a package of the same brand, salted. And they tasted crappy, too. But at least our research was thorough.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. They could save a word on the labeling if instead of ‘New and Improved’ they simply put ‘Screw You’. Which is, when all is said and done, their intent. And, dammit, they succeed.
    Sigh. I am pleased to say that your ‘crack’ doesn’t tempt me. Odd as it sounds I am not a caramel fan.

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    • Ah, you’re impervious to crack. You’re lucky that way. 😉 Perhaps I could tempt you by skipping the caramel and substituting a topping of white chocolate, chopped pistachios, and sweetened dried cranberries?

      I think your label interpretation is completely correct. Plus, I’ve been finding that there’s almost nothing in the grocery store that I can’t make at home for half the price and twice the flavour. Now, if only I had more time to bake…

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  6. Concur. “New And Improved” is ad-speak for “We’re Screwing You Yet Again.” And it’s always two lies for the price of one. Lie Number One: It’s new. It’s NOT new! It’s the same old crap, except worse. Lie Number Two: It’s improved. It’s NOT improved! It’s the same old…well, see Lie Number One.

    To The Blog Fodder and others in the same figurative boat, cut a baguette (or just about any other bread of your choice) into very thin slices, toast them until dry and slightly crisp, and there you have a fine cracker substitute for the recipe above. I did something like this a hunnerd or two years ago when our sons were little with Boy Scout cookware over a campfire. After grossly underestimating the number of crackers that would be required, I cut the crust off some slices of regular white sammich bread, cut the slices into quarters, pressed them sort of flat, and kept right on cranking them out without saying a word or missing a beat. My sons just nodded and went on about their business. Their buddies’ jaws dropped.

    Improvise, adapt, overcome. That’s the way I raised my sons. Years later, I learned that my sons’ friends secretly referred to me as MacGyver. I considered that an enormous compliment! 🙂

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  7. My sanity has been in question since 1980 when coke shifted to using high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar. I told everyone that it tasted like dirt and stopped buying it.

    “New and Improved” is a code phrase for, “We found a cheeper way to make it, will increase the price, and hope you don’t notice that it tastes worse.”

    Now, I might have to try crack …

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    • LOL! You hit the nail on the head with ‘cheaper for them and higher-priced for us’. It’s the same as those stupid automated phone menus: “To serve you better, here’s our automated menu to prevent you from bothering one of our human employees’. I always want to bellow, “IN WHAT WAY IS THIS SERVING ME BETTER?!?” But I don’t bother, because nobody’s actually listening.

      On the upside, I’ve found some soda cracker recipes I’m going to try making. Maybe I’ve been solving the wrong problem here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wondered if soda crackers were a North American phenomenon. I checked the internet to see whether they had an equivalent in the UK and Australia, but didn’t realize the Ukraine didn’t have them. I’d commiserate; except for the fact that you’re not missing much now that the standard recipe has changed to ‘blah’. 😉

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