My live-in girlfriend and I had every reason to expect we’d be good at this whole isolation thing.
We’re both news-reading, socially conscious, low-octane lesbians who enjoy a good podcast and tend to go to bed pretty early anyway. She’s got her sourdough starter, I’ve got my comics. We thought those hobbies, and our ironclad four-and-a-half year relationship, would be enough to get us through this stay-at-home order unscathed.
But then, on Sunday morning, she rolls over in bed and tells me a graham cracker is basically a cookie.
I blink. I scoff.
“No it isn’t,” I say.
“Then what is it?” she asks.
I look around blearily to make sure I’m still in our bedroom, and not on the set of a reality show. Or in hell.
“A cracker,” I say. “It’s in the name.”
She’s not phased at all by this argument. She says a graham cracker is sweet, therefore a dessert, and therefore a cookie. She describes a chart of sorts, ranging from sweet to savory on the y axis, and crispy to bready on the x. Cookies and graham crackers both fall in the “crispy” and “sweet” categories, and therefore belong together.
Her classification system has a sort of internal logic. But so did treating medieval patients based on the balance of their blood, bile, and phlegm -- and that, I’m quick to point out, was also fucking bullshit.
“If someone says ‘Here, have a cookie’ and hands you a fucking graham cracker, how do you react?” I demand.
She shrugs. She prefers graham crackers to most of the sweeter cookies anyway.
I won’t bore you with how the next half-hour went, but suffice to say it sounded a little like this.
If I was a little more cogent at the time, I might have gone into the essence of what a graham cracker actually is. They were named for the Reverend Sylvester Graham, an 1800s Presbyterian minister who believed sexual desires and impulses – especially masturbation -- could cause one to become physically ill.
The more “immoral” the sex act, the worse the malady. Rubbing one out would cause insanity. Babies conceived during hot, enjoyable sex, meanwhile, would be sickly and die untimely deaths. Graham was determined to stop a generation of perverts from humping humanity to extinction.
In another logical leap, Graham also determined that sexual desires were influenced by our diets. Meaty, fatty, sugary foods made us lusty. Bland, vegetarian foods cooled us off. To that effect, he invented “Graham bread,” which was made of a coarse wheat flour he promoted, and probably looked and tasted like dogshit.
What happened next is unclear, a missing chapter in the annals of confectionary history. Somebody, be it Graham or one of his adherents, took that flour and baked it into a crispy square sometime between the 1820s and the 1880s. From there, we realized that they’d taste a whole lot better with sweeteners and enriched flour, both evil in Graham’s book. In time, we made them into s’mores, and eventually, we jacked off all we wanted.
By this token, a graham cracker is no more a cookie than a bat is a bird. Any similarities between the two are an accident of convergent evolution. But try telling that to a woman who now insists upon calling them “graham cookies.”
I took the liberty of taking this question to Twitter, and the relatively small sample size (35 or so people) overwhelmingly agreed with me.
ALRIGHT. HELP ME SETTLE THIS.— Hannah Jones (@reporterjones) April 7, 2020
Graham crackers are:
I’m not afraid of taking this to a broader audience, meaning you, to put my loving and committed partner on blast. Look deep within yourself and look into the eyes of the person you love. Then tell them whether you think a graham cracker is a cookie or a cracker.
Just know you might not like what you find out.