"Hard as the Hubs of Hell": Crackers in War
Beginning with the American Civil War, through to the mid-twentienth century, military conflict played a significant role in the growth of the cracker industry. During the Civil War, large numbers of soldiers survived on Army Bread, a style of hard bread that had been used by sailors and armies for centuries. Once the war ended, after consuming crackers for four years, the eating patterns of the returning soldiers had been altered. At the same time, cracker manufacturers, having expanded and modernized to meet wartime needs, needed to maintain their output and began offering a greater variety of consumer crackers to an audience ready to accept them. Their success, and adaptation to a new business model, the corporation, created a mammoth new industry by the turn of the twentieth century, slightly less than twenty-five years after the Civil War. War continued to play a role in the industry's progress. During the first half of the century, and in both the First and Second World Wars, factories doubled production to serve both military and consumer needs, helping crackers make further inroads into the population's diet, ultimately becoming a mainstream staple.
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