The Real Reason Cracker Barrel Used To Handwrite Its Menus

If there is one thing Cracker Barrel stands for, it's simplicity. More accurately, the simplicity of an older, by-gone time of old general stores, family-owned gas stations, and no-frills meals. This was the vision founder Dan Evins had back when he opened the first restaurant in 1969 (per Cracker Barrel). He imagined a place where the world of simple country living would be alive and well even as the world outside marched on.

But Cracker Barrel has adopted a few modern conveniences in its 50-some years of business. Cashiers in the gift shop use modern card-reading registers instead of heavy iron cash registers, customers can order take-out, and the company even has its own app. While these aren't the same as having a giant flatscreen TV showing football games on the walls of antiques, for example, Cracker Barrel has gone through many changes since Dan Evins' day way back in the early 1970s.

This isn't to say that Cracker Barrel has foregone all the old-time traditions that made it so popular today. The restaurants still make biscuits and cornbread from scratch (according to a former employee on Reddit). There are still rows of rocking chairs creaking back and forth in the summer wind out on the patio. There are also the old brown paper bag menus from the first days that Cracker Barrel was open. But unlike those old menus, these ones are more professionally styled instead than their earlier counterparts.

Dan Evins handwrote the menus to make them more folksy

If you were to go around to different places across the United States, you'd notice that certain regions have certain dialects. The people who speak these dialects may have different ways of saying words or have their own phrases exclusive to that region. Dan Evins wanted to capture that dialect in his restaurant. What better way to remind customers of walking into a cozy, off-the-beaten-path country store than using the old-timey language you'd expect a country store to have?

As Cracker Barrel explains, Evins would handwrite the menus himself, using intentional misspellings to mimic the certain sounds one with a country dialect would say. "Breakfast," for example, would become "brakfast" and "sandwiches" would become "sanwiches."  There were also unique terms for foodstuffs, such as "moo juice" for milk and "lonies and crackers" for a bologna dinner (via FOX News).

The menus were shaped to look like barrels and styled after brown paper bags to add to the general store atmosphere. If guests so desired, they could actually take the quirky-looking menus with them as souvenirs. While the colorful style of spelling eventually faded out as Cracker Barrel grew, the company still did its best to maintain Evins' original vision. If all this talk of menus has made you hungry, maybe you can look at some of the best things to order at Cracker Barrel.