The Real Reason Cheez-It Crackers Have Holes In The Middle

The Redditverse is filled with conspiracy theories explaining the holes in the middle of your favorite mid-afternoon snack cracker. One poster wonders if Cheez-It holes are there for injecting cheese. Maybe, suggests another, the holes ensure that Cheez-its only fall "face down." (Heaven forbid they fall face up.) Yet a third person seems to imagine that Cheez-Its are made in Willie Wonka-like factories, filled with tiny Oompa Loompas. This forum participant suggests that the Cheez-It holes are for "lifting," and "allows workers to easily transport individual crackers by crane or lift truck without damaging the cracker's edges." A fourth decides that Cheez-Its were actually an ancient form of currency, and imagines our distant ancestors stringing the crackers "along a small thread for mobility."

Points for creativity, to be sure. If you read Reddit, the small, distinctive hole in the Cheez-It easily becomes the philosophical question of the next decade. The true reason for the hole in the middle of a Cheez-It cracker, unfortunately, is much more mundane. It turns out that the holes are a result of a process called "docking." Cheez-Its aren't the only crackers that undergo docking. In fact, most snack crackers do (via Thrillist).

Why do Cheez-its need docking?

Docking is the process of puncturing the dough of soon-to-be crackers, thereby crimping the top and bottom layers of it together. Doing so allows steam to escape from your crackers while they bake (via Pizza Magazine). If you dock your crackers properly, when you put them in the oven, they won't rise. That's key. The more you dock a dough, the thinner and crispier the crust of your cracker becomes. 

If you didn't dock Cheez-It dough — or any other cracker dough — you'd run the risk of the dough's naturally-forming air bubbles expanding into "bulges." If you get unlucky, these might explode in the oven (via South Florida Sun-Sentinel). Perhaps (as Pizza Magazine suggests) your cracker would come out looking "like a crispy, little inflated pita." Then again, if the air bubbles burst, they might come out looking more like "scorched, foxhole-riddled battlefields," according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Why do Cheez-It crackers have only one central hole? According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, docking pins are placed strategically in the center of each Cheez-it cracker in order to give them the "look of a punched pillow." If the pins were placed differently, you might get the "rolling-hills terrain" that we traditionally associate with saltines.