Think fast: When you spot a box of graham crackers, what comes to mind? Maybe you imagine sitting at a campfire as a kid, making s’mores? Or eating an afternoon snack involving peanut butter and raisins? When you don’t opt for the cinnamon or chocolate-flavored versions, a graham cracker cookie needs something else with it to jazz it up because hey, it’s pretty bland-tasting. While you’ve likely never given its somewhat dull nature a second thought (we definitely haven’t), it turns out there’s actually an um, interesting, reason why this cookie gained popularity.
It was apparently invented to make people less horny. Nope, not joking.
According to The Atlantic, back in the 1830s, an evangelical minister in the North East named Sylvester Graham (see where we’re going here?) was really concerned with how many Americans were getting it on. He thought that casual sex (or even recreational sex inside of marriage) was a sin and that it wasn’t only unholy, but could make us sick. To lure folks out of the bedroom, Graham had an idea: suppress all of the desires that bring you joy, and you won’t want to have sex as much.
The first place to start? With what Americans were putting in their mouths (no pun intended here, promise). Graham made it his mission to swiftly change the American sugar and fat-filled diet because he believed it was going to make us all crazy about sex and well, crazy in general. So he created The Graham Diet, which is kind of like a vegetarian diet (but not quite as exciting, obviously): no spices, meat, alcohol or tobacco, but plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. He was really, really against bread since the industrial movement was taking it out of homes and into supermarkets, and since it used white flour instead of whole wheat. His book goes on and on about the dangers of white flour.
Graham gained quite the health-conscious (and sexually concerned) following, but as time went on, he faced harsh criticism (especially from women). Eventually the foods he created and his advice started to wane. He died before his infamous Graham Crackers would ever become famous when the National Biscuit Company (now known as Nabisco) took his idea, added some sugar and made the product it a household staple.
We’re pretty sure Graham wouldn’t have approved of the sweetness of the cracker that now bears his name, but hey, it kind of worked: Is there anyone who really associates graham crackers with sex? We don’t think so.
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