Why Julia Child Loved To Serve Goldfish Crackers With Cocktails

At one time, Goldfish crackers weren't out of place at the bar. Before the Goldfish marketing campaign redirected its sights toward a child audience in the 1990s, those orange crackers were a common bar snack – and Julia Child herself was all about it.

Few foodies have worked to make "good eating" accessible to everyday home cooks like Child. She wasn't afraid to let her palette be her guide, even blending 30 cloves of garlic into her mashed potatoes. An invitation to a Child dinner party was imaginably legendary, and when she wasn't arranging an artful and involved Lobster Newburg, the chef was filling bowls with Goldfish crackers for guests to munch on as they sipped their martinis (yes, really). In 2012, Harvard University even hosted a day-long Julia Child-themed celebration and served attendees Goldfish crackers in the chef's honor.

Per the lore, Child especially loved pairing Goldfish crackers with her go-to cocktail, the reverse martini – two parts vermouth and one part gin. The "wet" proportions make for an herbal, bitter, botanical cocktail, which is aptly (if surprisingly) complemented by salty, savory, cheesy Goldfish.

When Goldfish crackers hit the States in 1962, the first five flavors were Lightly Salted (Original), Smoky, Cheese, Barbecue, Pizza, and Smoky (the first two flavors probably paired beautifully with a martini). For modern fans who might want to amp up the action, it wouldn't be against the rules to whip out some cheese-dust-coated "Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar" Goldfish at cocktail hour.

An unlikely bar snack through the ages

Goldfish crackers' initial adult audience was a fitting direction for this snack. Pepperidge Farms founder Margaret Rudkin first tasted the crunchy fish during a trip to Switzerland. The original creator (a Swiss cookie manufacturer called Oscar J. Kambly) chose the shape as an ode to his wife, whose horoscope sign was Pisces (a fish symbol). 

The intrinsic bond between comfort food and nostalgia has helped keep this timeless cracker relevant and beloved by foodies of all ages for over 60 years. Astronauts were eating Goldfish in outer space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1988. The cracker's connection to the cocktail realm has never disappeared, either. When Bed-Stuy bar legend Dynaco opened in New York in 2013, its only bar snack was Goldfish crackers. In 2021, the official Goldfish TikTok account posted a video depicting the Vanilla Cupcake Graham Cracker Goldfish paired with an Espresso Martini — a more dessert-centric profile than Child's reverse martini.

In 2022, Pepperidge Farms set its sights on an adult audience once again with the release of its larger Goldfish Mega Bites in Sharp Cheddar and the more adult-oriented Cheddar Jalapeño flavor. Pepperidge Farms has since experimented with other ostensibly adult-targeted Goldfish flavors like Old Bay and Frank's RedHot. Today, American fans eat 150 billion Goldfish crackers every single year, roughly enough to circle planet Earth 60 times – and an estimated 47% of Goldfish purchasers don't have any children in the house.