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We tasted three top-selling national brands to see which came out on top.
Published June 1, 2011. Appears in Cook's Country June/July 2011
Top PicksSee Everything We Tested
What You Need To Know
The original graham crackers, developed by Sylvester Graham some 200 years ago, were more like hardtack than like the sweet wafers we know today. Marketed as “Dr. Graham’s Honey Biskets,” the dense crackers were made largely from coarse whole-wheat flour. Graham might be faintly horrified by what’s become of them: Yes, supermarket grahams still incorporate graham (or whole-wheat) flour, but white flour is now the primary ingredient with sugar of some sort not far behind. They also contain oil, salt, and leaveners.
We tasted three top-selling national brands sampling them plain, in Chocolate Éclair Cake, and in the crust of Key lime pie. All brands fared well enough to earn our recommendation. For straight snacking, we prefer one product for its wheaty flavor and tempered sweetness. These crackers have the highest percentage of graham flour, which contributes to their flavor but could also account for their less substantial structure (they turned to mush in the Éclair Cake); graham flour forms less gluten than white flour. Another brand, which held up in both pie crust and cake, are best for baking.
Everything We Tested
Sampled plain, Keebler’s grahams struck some tasters as “fake” and “artificial.” In both cake and pie, however, these crackers held up well. Tasters praised their “tender and light” and “robust” texture, which made them “definitely a winner—great graham cracker taste and smooth texture.”
While the other brands excelled in one area and fell short in another, Honey Maid’s grahams earned consistent praise, whether sampled plain or in baked goods. Tasters found them “very pleasing,” “butterscotch-y,” and “very soft, fine, fresh-textured.”
Eaten plain, Nabisco’s grahams were “wheaty,” “grainy,” “hefty,” “nutty,” and “earthy.” In the cake tasting, however, the crackers turned to mush, prompting comments like “Tastes like wet cardboard—ew” and “Just a ghost of crumbs.” They were fine in the pie crust.
Reviews you can trust
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