The Real Reason People Are Calling Out The Cracker Barrel Logo

It's hard not to have an opinion about Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, the gift shop and comfort food restaurant chain found along interstate highways across the U.S. Even if you've never eaten there, you may have heard "Cracker Barrel" used as shorthand for the rural white demographic in America. For example, a political blogger noted in 2011 that during the 2008 election, Barack Obama only won 36 percent of counties that have a Cracker Barrel (via The Washington Post). And while the Tennessee-based restaurant chain tries to promote a wholesome image of Southern hospitality, it has been hit with at least two lawsuits accusing it of racism, one from customers (via CBS News) and one from employees (via Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

Suspicions that Cracker Barrel is racist persist. Just a few months ago, in November, a restaurant in Connecticut apologized after a customer saw what looked like a noose hanging from the establishment's heavily decorated ceiling. The noose turned out to be a cord from an antique soldering iron, according to the local newspaper the Journal Inquirer. Local activists, however, were still alarmed. "Combined with the plantation-style decor of the place, it is a very clear sign that they want a whites-only atmosphere," Joanna Iovino told the newspaper.

Cracker Barrel was named after barrels of crackers in country stores

It's no surprise, then, that a tweet posted on February 8 interpreting Cracker Barrel's logo as racist has gotten a lot of traction. @DomoDaDonn tweeted a photo of the logo, which shows a white man sitting by a barrel, next to the words "Cracker Barrel." A long, sweeping line connects one of the "R's" in "barrel" to the "K" in "cracker." Whoever originally created the tweeted photo added text saying the curved line resembled a whip. They claimed that "cracker" is slang for "whip" and whips were sold out of barrels in country stores. Hence the name: Cracker Barrel.

Most of that is false. The slang term "cracker" only partially originates from white people who used whips on livestock and even slaves (via NPR). But those country-store barrels in fact held crackers, not whips, according to the obituary for Cracker Barrel founder Dan Evins published in The Washington Post.

Twitter user @GodotisW8ing4U tried to set the record straight on the social media platform. Godot laughed off the whip symbolism: "You don't know what a whip looks like, AND you're insane if you think keeping whips in a barrel would ever make any sense (they'd all get tangled)."

Even so, a lot of Black Twitter expressed no fondness for Cracker Barrel restaurants. @Whoisnovember tweeted, "I still can't see how some of y'all have actually gone into and EATEN at this place! Y'all BRAVE I've never stepped foot!"