life, thoughts, travel

Oh, Crackers

zesta2 (499x800)Have you ever heard anyone in the USA called a Cracker? It usually refers to someone from the south, right? A redneck?

Well, since I’m leaving Florida soon (you can read about the move here), I thought I’d share now about how the term Cracker originates from the state of Florida.

Most people know Florida for its sunshine and oranges. What most people don’t know, is that Florida started out as the beef capital of the country. As much as some might like to use the term Cracker as a derogatory term for southerners, the term was originally used to refer to rugged Florida cowboys.

I’ve posted about my trips to the Florida State Fair each year for our Valentine’s Day date. What I didn’t share was about the historical center they have there called Cracker Country. This is my favorite place at the Fair, because I love history, and a corner of the grounds there are set up like a small town in the late 1800’s.

ccwide (800x370) wmWhen you first enter, you will find the sign (below) that explains where the term Cracker originates.

ccname (800x449)It might be easier to read if you click on it to make bigger.

There you can see the original homes of two families who lived in Florida. Most of the decor is original as well.

ccsmhouse (800x417) wmThis is the Smith House.

carltonhouse1Carlton House courtesy of Cracker Country

They have original post office, school, church, general store, train depot and more.

ccschool (800x532) wmInside the schoolhouse

ccusps (800x613) wmMy favorite thing to do in Cracker Country is to watch how they used to make syrup out of sugar cane. You can buy a stalk to see what it tastes like before it is processed. It is not edible in this form, but the bamboo like coating can be peeled back to suck on the inside nectar. It is just the right hint of sweet with a citrus flavor.

800px-Cut_sugarcaneSugar cane courtesy of wiki commons (wikipedia)

They also demonstrate how they made lye soap. Thank God we are in an era where we don’t have to use that stuff.

ccsoap (800x457) wmSince we’ve been there many times, I have plenty more photos I could share of the place. However, I’ll just share one more. It’s a model of what the homes and businesses might’ve looked like back then.

ccmodel (800x399) (2) wmI hope you enjoyed this little blog journey of Cracker Country. Next time you hear someone called a Cracker, you’ll know the original term referred to rugged, smelly cattlemen from the 19th century.

P.S. Georgia was also known for its Cracker Cattlemen.

Are you a fan of history? What is your favorite era?

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36 thoughts on “Oh, Crackers”

  1. I had no idea there was originally a non-pejorative meaning to the word! Thanks for the history lesson. πŸ™‚ It’s hard for me to choose a favorite historical period, but I think the Colonial era might beat out some others by a nose.

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    1. Yes, when I first learned this, I had no idea either. I wondered as an archeologist if there is one era you would like to uncover. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Kourtney. It’s a fun place to explore. I didn’t want to carry my camera. My phone doesn’t take the best picks, but it worked okay.

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  2. Last week we visited old Florida! I love it more every time I go. This year, my son kept going back to the woodworking barn and the tent with Native American weaponry and tools. He was fascinated. My kids loved the glass beehive and watching the queen. My daughter, who was in her way to the bees, ended up in the weaving Cracker house, where she promptly volunteered to assist with the unwieldy loom. (It was a scare before we found her!) My husband loves the sugarcane syrup-making. Guess what I love? Well, other than the free gingerbread, I love perusing the old books behind the glass in the schoolhouse. πŸ™‚
    The derogatory meaning associated with Florida Cracker does not seem to affect my generation as much as it did the past generations. Maybe it’s because of information being spread, like the cattlemen story above.
    Thanks for this farewell sort-of post to Florida. You know I miss living there. I’m happy for you, that you get to return to Chicago. I know you’ve missed home, too. πŸ™‚

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    1. Hi Rilla. That sounds like so much fun to do with your kids. Where is this Old Florida spot that you take them to? My favorite place in all of Florida is St. Augustine, because it’s the oldest town in the U.S. I wanted to post about it, but I haven’t been there in some time. I hoped to get there before we moved, but time is running out and we won’t make it. 😦 Thanks so much for your support of my moving back home.

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      1. Old Florida is in Northeast Florida. The houses are there year round, but the exhibit is open during the agricultural fair in April.
        I’m sorry I won’t get to see a St. Augustine post from you. You post great pictures, and it would feed my heart to see the Old City through your lens. It’s my favorite, too. There are two “tracks” I like especially: the Spanish Colonial focus and the Flagler focus. Last time, my husband and I toured the historic Catholic sites. (I’m not Catholic, though.) I can never get enough!

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        1. Back in the film days, I took tons of photos of St. Aug. I enlarged a couple and have them framed hanging in my house. I might have some pics on digital. I’ll have to check and perhaps put some up either before or after the move.

          Oh, I thought Old Florida was the name of the exhibit, but now I’m guessing it’s the name of the town.

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  3. The replica settlements are interesting… I’m not one for museums but from time to time I enjoy the historical villages, they seem more alive than dusty exhibitions. There’s one up our way called Timbertown. I like the history of the term cracker. At Taylors Arm they have whip cracking competitions on Australia Day.
    I think I like early Australian history best because I can relate to it but I also will read just about anything historical, the past in general and how we came to be where we are now fascinates me.

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    1. It IS fascinating to learn how people lived in different eras, and how it led to the lifestyles we lead now. Neat, about the whip cracking competitions there. Thanks for sharing, EllaDee.

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  4. This is really interesting Lori, thanks for sharing. Like some of your other commenters, I’ve only heard ‘crackers’ mean crazy – though it’s usually quite a gentle term, not a really offensive one. The period of history I love is prehistory, probably because it’s so mysterious.

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    1. Okay, excuse my ignorance, so when is prehistory? Is it like BC? I’m a fan of the renaissance, and also the start of the common era.

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  5. Looks like a fun place to visit. Great pics. I don’t know if I have a favorite era per say (besides our own!), but I find things about the middle ages interesting. And the times I’ve been to Europe, I love exploring castles.

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    1. It is a fun place to visit. Kids go on field trips there from all over the state to learn about Florida’s history. Oh yes, those castles in Europe really get the mind floating back to another time. I’m a fan of the renaissance time period. I’m also fascinated with the start of the common era. Thanks for checking it out, Carrie.

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  6. Very interesting, Lori, and I loved the tour of Cracker Country. What a cool place. Funny, just last week, our neighbor, who is Indian, but was raised in England, said ‘He’s crackers,’ when we were talking about a drive-by shooting. I asked him what that meant, and he said, ‘he’s crazy.’

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    1. Oh yes, the plural “crackers” can mean crazy. It’s fascinating how terms can change over the years, or mean different things. In this case, Crackers mean 4 different things … food, crazy, ignorant white people, and cattlemen.

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    1. You haven’t heard the term “Cracker” before? It’s used as a derogatory term for southerners and sometimes just white people in general. If people really took the time to research history, they’d understand it was never meant that way. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Anneli.

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      1. I’ve heard it used (and not very often) in, “You must be crackers,” meaning crazy, but even that way, it’s not a common expression. But I haven’t heard of crackers in any other context except those dry snacks you can put cheese on and have with your wine.

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        1. Ha, yes, I’ve heard it used as a plural as in ‘you must be crazy.’ They also call someone a Cracker here (white person) if they mean to purposely be offensive. Not nice, but most people shrug it off as humorous.

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    1. I know, I was surprised when I first learned this about Crackers, too. I didn’t know that about the minor league baseball team there, but now you know where they got it from. πŸ™‚

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  7. I had no idea this is where this term originated from. I always thought it was a derogatory term used to describe Caucasians (at least that is the way I have heard it used). It always brought up images of saltines. Now I know. Thank-you!

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    1. Yes, I’ve heard the word Cracker used in a derogatory way to describe Caucasians, too, SD. It’s original meaning wasn’t derogatory at all. I was surprised when I learned this for the first time, too. Thanks for reading, SD.

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        1. That’s so nice of you to say. I keep trying to reciprocate by going to your blog and have trouble finding it. Remind me the name of your blog again so I can put it in my reader.

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