Why Do Crackers Have Holes? The Origin of Saltines & EASY Sweet & Saltine Toffee Bark

photo source: davisdialogues

Thar’s holes in them thar hills! Well, I believe the term originally stated “gold” but I’m on a roll, cracker roll 🙂  Saltines, Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Ritz Crackers, grahams, you name it — there’s hardly a cracker anywhere that doesn’t have a pattern of little holes in it. And no, the 18 holes in a Keebler Club cracker are not a golf course for the elves.

photo source: fadingad

According to a spokesperson at Keebler, there’s a sort of mystique about cracker holes that occupies the minds of people who seem to have very little to do. They’re prone to calling Keebler’s customer-relations line to ask questions such as, “Why are there 13 holes in saltines, while graham crackers have various numbers and a Cheez-It has a sole hole?” The answer: “It just turns out that way.”

photo source: seriouseats

Here’s a primer on the science of crackerpuncture. Astonishingly, it turns out the holes are there for a reason, not just for decoration or for convenience in some manufacturing process, as one might expect.  In actuality, without these holes, crackers wouldn’t bake correctly. These holes allow steam to escape during cooking.  This keeps the crackers flat, instead of rising a bit like a normal biscuit as the steam tries to escape; these holes also help to properly crisp the crackers.

photo source: apbelts

When crackers are made, dough is rolled flat in sheets.  These sheets then travel under a mechanism containing “docker” pins that end up putting the holes in the dough.  The hole’s positioning and number varies depending on the size and shape of the cracker.  If the holes are too close together, the cracker will end up being extra dry and hard, due to too much steam escaping.  If the holes end up being too far apart, parts of the cracker will rise a bit forming little bubbles on the surface of the cracker, which is undesirable in most types of crackers.

photo source: jeremyandgolda

Sweet & Saltine Toffee Bark


Cooking spray

35 to 40 saltine crackers

2 sticks (1 cup) butter

1 cup light brown sugar

8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/3 cups)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line 1 large or 2 small jelly-roll pans with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly.

Put the jelly-roll pan into the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully. Remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife.

Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

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32 Comments Add yours

  1. Everyone loves crackers Lana! Great Post! Cheryl xo

    1. Thanks a bunch, Cheryl! Guilty! I still remember having saltines & milk as our snack back in kindergarten! I still like this simple combo today!

      1. I always have crackers in my pantry. If someone has a belly ache saltines (unsalted) usually helps with some gingerale soda! My friend http://www.Sarah n’ Spice.com has a Christmas Cracker with CHOCOLATE recipe posted using saltines if my memory serves me right?! Sweet or savory they work! Woo-Hoo.

      2. Thank you, Cheryl! Simple crackers can be very diverse! Sweet & savory tends to be so satisfying! I’m off to Sarah’s blog! Thank for the introduction!

      3. let me make sure I have her ip address correct for you-she is on “we graze together”. http://www.sarahnspice.com – Cheryl xo

      4. Thanks, Cheryl! Following Sarah now! What a wonderful site she has!

      5. Glad you enjoyed-she and I have been following each other from the get-go 2 years ago-she is a gem! Cheryl

      6. Wonderful indeed! Thanks again, Cheryl!

  2. Great post, and I love the recipe. What`s better then sweet & savory treats ? 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! I agree! Sweet & savory is simply the best in many aspects of fare 🙂

  3. koolaidmoms says:

    Love the treat! Plus the history of crackers. I never knew! Thanks.

    1. Thank you, Marci! They’re almost too easy and too tasty!

      1. koolaidmoms says:

        Those re the best kind of treats!

      2. Agreed, Marci! I made a batch for my hubby to bring to work & they were gone in less than 30 minutes! Thanks again!

  4. Crackers yumm!

    1. I agree, Lynn! Interesting how something so simple can be so satisfying! Thanks so much, my dear friend ♥

      1. most welcome love!

  5. Osyth says:

    Ooh that recipe looks very very naughty! And you have no idea how delighted I am to discover the reason for cracker holes. Before Christmas I decided I wanted to make crackers but every single recipe I followed came out squidgy …. what a difference those little holes could make 🙂

    1. Thank you, Osyth! You’re right–they are a naughty indulgence 🙂 One or 2 goes a long way! Crackers can be cantankerous little bits, indeed! The holes definitely serve more than an aesthetic purpose so the story goes 🙂

  6. I love sweet and salt. This is such a great idea! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Ronit! I too love sweet & salt…very satisfying!

  7. We were given some of these as a Christmas gift from a friend. They are addicting! Love the cracker facts, neat!

    1. What a sweet gift, Kathryn! I love them too. Aren’t baked goods welcomed gifts?

      1. Yes, they sure are since I don’t bake sweets, lol!

  8. I never really thought the holes were there for this reason, but now it does make sense! Great read and a lovely recipe, Lana 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Freda! I never knew about the need for the little holes until after researching crackers either! This recipe is so quick & simple too!

  9. Goodness me, they look gorgeous!

    1. Thanks so much, Daniela! They’re wonderful & so very easy! I was impressed with the way something so simple could be so delicious & satisfying 🙂

  10. Cool post Lana, as always 🙂 Have a lovely week.

    1. Thank you, Lynne! Our lives are now fuller & more enriched knowing about the use of cracker holes, right??! lol! It was a fun post to research & write 🙂

      1. Absolutely 🙂 🙂 🙂

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