The Unsurprising Way Oyster Crackers Got Their Name

If you're a fan of cute, bite-sized foods, you've likely heard of oyster crackers. About the size of a dime, oyster crackers are usually flaky, salty, and buttery, and are often paired with seafood soups and stews (via Costas Inn). While most people associate oyster crackers with a rich bowl of clam chowder, Travel and Leisure reports that in Ohio, they're topped with hot sauce and eaten as an appetizer. It's only fitting that the land of chili-topped spaghetti would find another way to break the mold when it comes to food.

While oysters are commonly eaten raw with toppings like vinegar, hot sauce, and lemon, they can also be fried, broiled, and grilled before consumption (via Food & Wine). Another popular way to prepare oysters is called Oysters Rockefeller, which involves baking them with sauteed spinach, cheese, and lemon juice. There are a variety of unique ways to make them, too: have you ever thought of making an oyster dressing, or an oyster po'boy?

With all the variety in oyster recipes, it can be confusing to figure out where oyster crackers come from. Are these tiny crackers just another food derived from oysters?

Oyster crackers accompanied oyster stew

You may be shocked to learn that (drum roll), oyster crackers got their name because of their association with oysters and other seafood, but not because they actually contain any oysters. As you may suspect from the taste, oyster crackers have no oysters in them at all, just wheat flour, salt, and butter, according to Costas Inn.

According to The Kitchn, the origins of oyster crackers are actually a point of contention, with Adam Exton claiming to have first made them in his New Jersey Cracker Bakery in 1847. However, according to Westminster Crackers in Massachusetts, their bakery created oyster crackers not long after the American Revolution, and they even have virtual tours showcasing their dough mixing and cracker-cutting processes.

Regardless of their origins, oyster crackers are suspected to have gotten their name due to their association with oyster stew, which used to be a cheap meal available in taverns along the East Coast (via Portable Press). Others have mused that their name comes from their round, white, oyster-like appearance (via Food Timeline). It's possible that both are true. If the name "oyster crackers" makes you uneasy, you can always call them by their other names; according to The Kitchn, they've also been dubbed "water crackers" and "Philadelphia crackers." Who knew such a tiny food could spark so much debate?