Sylvester's Cracker

Brian Niedermeier

The graham cracker. When it comes to "All things American", the graham cracker can claim this title proudly. It fits into the archives of those lil things that Americans relish, for they speak of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; ranging from the telephone, to rock n' roll, to the 99 cent hamburger.

Its inventor, Sylvester Graham, an American Presbyterian minister during the 1820s and 1830s, suggested that a natural diet was the seed of good health and sexual restraint.

He was born in West Suffield, Connecticutt in 1794, and after struggling through most of his youth and adolescent years with odd jobs, he became a presbysterian minister in 1826, and later joined a cause against the consumption of alcohol. This led Graham to pursue other vices that were toxic to the human body, thus beginning his studies into good health and hygiene.

He argued that getting sick was linked to a poor diet, and that eating foods that were of good nutritional value helped build up a strong immune system. On top of that, he stated that a good nutritional diet could curb lust. As a result he, came up with a special vegetarian diet, with "graham bread" as the centerpiece. Hence, the graham cracker.

People thought he was a little goofy, regarding his reasoning behind sexual restraint, but, as Harry Truman put it, " the buck stopped there." Graham was an advocate of brushing teeth and bathing on a regular basis, which was a rarity back then, as well as drinking pure water to prevent cholera and getting more than seven hours of sleep a night. He also stated that exercise was a great way to achieve excellent health, so in hindsight, he wasn't that far off of the loop, and his cracker, which bears his name, is a cornerstone of American yums. Where would a smore be without one?