This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what we’re eating, drinking, and buying. Here, Carey Polis writes about the mini crackers that are infinitely better than their full-sized counterparts.
Look, I’m no physics expert, but I understand that if you shrink a Saltine, you get…a smaller Saltine. Butimprove upon normal-sized Saltines so much that you have to question if they’re even the same cracker, despite having all the same ingredients.
We all know Saltines as a deliberately bland cracker, great for when your stomach is doing flips or when you’re looking for a tableau for cheese or dip that purposely doesn’t impart a heavy flavor. It’s theof crackers; it’s a safe assumption that Saltines are not what anyone would call exciting. They are totally fine. Too crumbly and too sticky on the roof of your mouth, but fine. Normal. Average. Reliable. Mundane.
Saltine minis, however, are way beyond fine. Whereas each bite of a regular Saltine alternates between too salty and not salty enough, the one-bite mini is evenly and perfectly salted all around, likely thanks to its size. You also sidestep the universal “gahhh I have crumbs all over me” experience since this cracker is a one-and-done chomp. The mini is sturdier than its older sibling, and has more character. There’s nuance, there’s savoriness, there’s a pleasing light salt aftertaste that immediately encourages you to grab more from the box.
It’s precisely this bigger-is-NOT-better size, paired with the crispier-but-not-overly-so structure, that makes this an excellent snack for my extended family. My one-year-old hoovers them and I’m not worried about them gumming up his eightfour-toothed mouth. My four-year-old finds them delightful, a commendation that’s granted to few foods these days (mostly cheese, rice, pasta, and seaweed snacks). My in-laws brought a box on a recent long-haul flight. My brother and sister-in-law order them by the. My brother also dragged the crackers from Washington, DC to a bachelor party in Austin where a bunch of 30-year-old dudes also saw the mini Saltine light. He later sent a six-pack as a well-received housewarming present.
As I deeply researched this article (a.k.a., ordered my own six-pack), I gave my parents one cracker each. They immediately asked for more, with my salt-averse mother also commenting on how balanced they were. I also mentioned this article to my sister-in-law, who deadpanned, “This is definitely a career highlight for you…or at least, for your career as it pertains to me.” I’ve worked in food media for over 16 years, including six at this very magazine, but you know what? I think she’s right. I do care that deeply about spreading the gospel of these unheralded gems of the cracker world.
My only confusion is why the Nabisco/Mondelez overloads don’t market these more. There’s a hit on their hands, but the minis are surprisingly elusive. No fear, they are easily available online, and at several major retailers too.
So, go ahead, order that six-pack. Like my parents and the bachelor party bros, you’ll probably only need one to realize it’s a purchase worth making.