Cheese and crackers have long been my favorite snack. The combination is a one that has evolved with me: Whereas cheese once meant a plate of mild cheddar (sliced by a parent with full knife-wielding privileges), now it can be creamy camembert, aged comté, and perhaps some local chevre artfully arranged on a board — emphasis on it can be this way; more often, it’s still a single cheese on a regular plate. And while the cheeses have evolved (the cheddar, at least, is now extra sharp) along with my ability to procure it on my own, the crackers don’t change. Back then they were Triscuits, and Triscuits are still as perfect as they ever were.
Even as my cracker palate has expanded to include the long, wavy flatbread crackers with rosemary and sea salt, or those dark brown crackers that display a cross section of dried fruits and nuts, I’m always thrilled to see the comparatively simple, square Triscuits spread out on a plate. As a base for cheese, they’re ideal — they’re sturdy, capable of holding aloft even the thickest slices of cheese (though, of course, you wouldn’t want the cheese-to-cracker ratio to be off). Original Triscuits are bland enough to complement an array of cheeses, not to mention other toppings like the slices of cherry tomatoes pictured on the Triscuit box, with enough salt to still be palatable. They’re the only kind that will do for cheese and crackers. Few other crackers can achieve such a feat.
Crackers generally aren’t one of those foods that’s improved upon when made by small-batch producers. The big brand-name crackers are excellent: Recipes for homemade saltines exist, but there is no reasonable reason one would ever attempt them, and Ritz crackers are pleasingly buttery to a degree artisanal crackers can’t match. But Triscuits, for me, stand slightly above and apart from the rest. There’s really no other cracker that offers the specific crunch and textural contrast that comes from the Triscuit’s layers of shredded wheat.
Recently, I was on a friend’s terrace and she put out some smoked gouda Triscuits. I had never ventured into the realm of flavored Triscuits, of which there are at least a dozen, and at first, I was put off. Why mess up a good thing? But after my fourth or fifth cracker, I realized that Triscuits are one of the few crackers capable of transcending their role as a base for toppings or soup accompaniment — these were also crackers you can eat like chips.
Recently, my appreciation for the humble Triscuit grew when I learned the etymology of “Triscuit” from a Twitter thread (along with thousands of others, based on the number of likes it got). The fact that the “Tri” in Triscuit was short for “Electricity” and thus “Triscuit” = “electricity biscuit” will stick with me as an actually fun fun fact, and a reminder that at one time (1900, to be exact), Triscuits were a product harnessing new and exciting technology. It’s also a reminder that Triscuits, a consistent presence in all my snack-eating years, are timeless beyond this relatively brief period. May they never change.