Where Did Cracker Barrel Get Its Name?
It’s a homespun tale.
It’s a classic road trip stop. It’s a favorite for Sunday afternoon meals with the family. It’s Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, to be precise.
The first Cracker Barrel opened on Highway 109 in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1969. Nearly 50 years later, there are 645 Cracker Barrels in 44 states, all selling old-fashioned wares and offering menus filled with classic Southern cuisine. (Chicken and dumplings, anyone?) While browsing the menu and shopping the store, have you ever wondered why it's called "Cracker Barrel"? Where did the country store get its name?
As it happens, Merriam-Webster defines “cracker-barrel” as an adjective “suggestive of the friendly homespun character of a country store.” So, technically, you could say, “I’m looking forward to a cracker-barrel visit to Cracker Barrel.” But why is the country store itself named “Cracker Barrel”?
The answer lies in the logo. The term “cracker-barrel” was first used in 1916, and it emerged from the country stores of the era. Also, actual barrels of crackers. The phrase “cracker-barrel” was inspired by the barrels full of soda crackers that were for sale in the country’s country stores. Each barrel stored the popular soda crackers (much like the Southern-favorite saltine crackers or Northern-favorite common crackers), and visitors to the stores sat around the barrels chatting and catching up on the day’s news, hence the “friendly homespun character” touted by the dictionary definition. That's why the logo tells the store’s origin story and the history of its traditions. Take a look—the figure sits in a rocking chair and leans on a barrel that's presumably filled with those eponymous crackers.
If you’re craving a treat from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store but aren’t within driving distance, you can get a taste of their classic Southern menu in your own home. Try making a cracker-barrel batch of Brent Cobb “Down Home” Cobb's Southern Collards, Brandy Clark “I Cried” Southern Baked Mac & Cheese, or Holly Williams “Settle Down” Chicken and Dumplings to satisfy your Cracker Barrel cravings.
WATCH: Southern Grandparents Guess the Expensive Bourbon
Who’s planning a visit to Cracker Barrel this weekend? From the food to the rocking chairs to the addictive tabletop peg games, the next visit is never too far away. We’re thinking a long lunch is in order.