In 1893, Henry D. Perky was eating breakfast in a small Nebraska town. He noticed another diner eating a bowl of boiled whole wheat that was broken up with a spoon.
When Perky asked the other diner why he was eating it, the diner responded by saying that it was a very digestible food and gave him strength.
The Triscuit is a popular snack
cracker that started as
a breakfast cereal.
See more boxed food pictures.
Perky tried it and agreed, but felt that the average person would not find it tasty nor go to the trouble of breaking it up with a spoon. That breakfast sparked the idea of shredded wheat cereal, the first prepared cereal in the world, and the mother of the Triscuit.
In this article, we’ll show you how Triscuits work, including the history, the production process, and the nutritional values of the popular snack cracker.
Perky started experimenting with wheat and found that by shredding the cooked wheat and toasting the biscuits, the flavors and texture were much more appetizing. After consulting a machinist, he developed a process for drawing the cooked wheat into shreds, forming the shreds into loaves, and baking the loaves in coal ovens.
Perky received a patent, five years later in 1898, for a “new and original design for wafers.” This cracker-like biscuit replaced the need to manually cut the shredded wheat biscuit lengthwise with a knife and toast both halves separately.
In 1901, he received two more patents for a “cracker of filamentous or shredded wheat” featuring a waffle-like texture. He named the wafer Triscuit.
Production of the Triscuit wafer began in 1903 at the Niagara Falls, New York plant with the Triscuit packaging proclaiming “Baked by Electricity.” The wafer measured 21/4 inches by 4 inches and remained that size for twenty-one years. At that point, the ovens were altered and improved and the cracker size changed to 2 inches square.
To make Triscuits today, the wheat is first cooked in water until its moisture content reaches about 50%. It is then tempered, allowing moisture to diffuse evenly into the grain. The grain then passes through a set of rollers with grooves in one side, yielding a web of shredded wheat strands.
Many webs are stacked together, and this moist stack of strands is crimped at regular intervals to produce individual pieces of cereal with the strands attached at each end. These then go into an oven, where they are baked until their moisture content is reduced to five percent.
In 1935, in order to better address consumer taste preferences, Triscuit crackers were sprayed with oil and lightly salted. The flavors remained the same until 1984 when popular tastes changed again. The public wanted nutritious wafers, but they also demanded more out of those wafers, including additional choices, “crunch” appeal, and flavor varieties. There are now eleven Triscuit varieties on store shelves. Learn about the health benefits of Triscuits in the next section.
Learn about the health benefits of Triscuits in the next section.