How Many Animal Shapes Have Been Used In Animal Crackers?

Animal crackers are a classic childhood treat that many of us still snack on well into adulthood. But in between munching on these tasty treats, have you ever taken a closer look at the creatures they resemble? You may be surprised to learn just how many different species have graced animal crackers in their century-plus history.

To start, we'll focus on the most popular and well-known brand, Barnum's Animal Crackers, famous for its iconic red box with circus animals on the side. The number varies slightly, but most sources indicate there have been 53 or 54 distinct animals represented on the crackers. However, others have set the count as low as 37 or as high as 106!

Unfortunately, there's no official word from Nabisco, which has produced the cookies since 1902. Nevertheless, the current lineup includes at least 18: bears, bison, camels, cougars, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, hippopotamuses, hyenas, kangaroos, koalas, lions, monkeys, rhinoceroses, seals, sheep, tigers, and zebras.

A shifting lineup of creatures

In the past, even more unique animals were included, as in the 1995 run that featured endangered species. This added animals like peregrine falcons, Komodo dragons, Bactrian camels, and Hawaiian monk seals to the list. While the overall lineup has shifted over the years, four remain constant: bears, elephants, lions, and tigers. Beyond the crackers, the Barnum's box has also seen notable change. Animal cracker boxes look different now because of pressure from animal rights groups that lobbied the company to remove the animals from their cages. This design update happened in 2018.

Of course, Barnum's snacks aren't the only animal crackers available. Alternatives include the even older brand from Stauffer Biscuit Company, which started in 1871. Stauffer's currently uses 13, including lions, bears, horses, and buffalo. Many grocery and food chains, including Aldi, Costco, Trader Joe's, and brands like Keebler and Austin, also sell or manufacture animal crackers. However, there's less information widely available about the exact composition of each. While the precise mix may change over time, snackers can count on a delicious variety of fun shapes in every package, no matter the type they choose.