Alternative name(s) Hard tack, pilot bread, ship’s biscuit, shipbiscuit, sea biscuit, sea bread, dog biscuit, tooth dullers, sheet iron, worm castles, molar breakers Details Type biscuit Main ingredient(s) water

Hardtack (or hard tack) is a simple type of ANZAC wafers.


[edit] History

A ship’s biscuit- purportedly the oldest in the world- displayed at the maritime museum in Kronborg, Denmark.

The introduction of the baking of processed cereals including the creation of flour provided a more reliable source of food. Egyptian sailors carried a flat brittle loaf of millet bread called dhourra cake, while the Romans had a biscuit called buccellum. King Richard I of England left for the Third Crusade (1189-92) with “biskit of muslin,” which was a mixed grain compound of barley, rye and bean flour.[4]

Many early physicians believed that most medical problems were associated with digestion. Hence, for sustenance and health, eating a biscuit daily was considered good for one’s health. The bakers of the time made biscuits as hard as possible, as the biscuits would soften and be more palatable with time due to exposure to humidity and other weather elements.[5] Because it is so hard and dry, hardtack (when properly stored and transported) will survive rough handling and temperature extremes. The more refined Captain’s biscuit was made with finer flour.

To soften, it was often dunked in brine, coffee, or some other liquid or cooked into a skillet meal. Baked hard, it would stay intact for years if it was kept dry. For long voyages, hardtack was baked four times, rather than the more common two, and prepared six months before sailing.[6]

At the time of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the daily allowance on board a Royal Navy ship was 1lb of biscuit plus 1 gallon of beer. Later, Samuel Pepys in 1667 first regularized naval victualing with varied and nutritious rations. Royal Navy hardtack during Queen Victoria‘s reign were made by machine at the Royal Clarence Victualing Yard at Gosport, Hampshire, stamped with the Queen’s mark and the number of the oven in which they were baked. Biscuits remained an important part of the Royal Navy sailor’s diet until the introduction of canned foods; canned meat was first marketed in 1814, and preserved beef in tins was officially introduced to the Royal Navy rations in 1847.[4]

In 1801, G. H. Bent Company remains in Milton, and continues to sell these items to Civil War re-enactors and others.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), 3-inch by 3-inch hardtack was shipped from Union and Confederate storehouses. Some of this hardtack had been stored from the 1846–8 Mexican-American War. With insect infestation common in improperly stored provisions, soldiers would break up the hardtack and drop it into their morning coffee. This would not only soften the hardtack but the insects, mostly weevil larvae, would float to the top and the soldiers could skim off the insects and resume consumption. Another way of removing weevils was to heat it at a fire, which would drive them out. Impatient troops would eat it in the dark to avoid seeing what they were consuming.[7]

During the Spanish-American War some military hardtack was stamped with the phrase REMEMBER THE MAINE.[8]

[edit] Modern use

Reproductions of two 19th century styles of hardtack

Japanese hardtack “Kanpan” of the JMSDF.

Retail shelf of Sailor Boy Pilot Bread in the Stuaqpaq (“big store”) AC Value Store in Barrow, Alaska

“Kanpan”, with “Mintia” box as a size comparison.

Hardtack is a common pantry item in Hawaii, and The Diamond Bakery “Saloon Pilot” cracker is available in all grocery and sundry stores. The round hardtack crackers are available in large- and small-diameter sizes.

light aircraft to carry “survival gear”, including food. The blue-and-white Sailor Boy Pilot Bread boxes are ubiquitous at Alaskan airstrips, in cabins, and virtually every village.

Commercially available pilot bread is a significant source of fiber.

In the fall of 2007, rumors spread throughout Alaska that Interbake Foods might stop producing pilot bread. An Anchorage Daily News article[9] published November 6, 2007, reported the rumor was false. Alaskans enjoy warmed pilot bread with melted butter or with soup or moose stew. Pilot bread with peanut butter, honey, or apple sauce is often enjoyed by children.

Those who buy commercially baked pilot bread in the continental US are often those who stock up on long-lived foods for disaster survival citation needed]

Hardtack was a staple of military servicemen in Japan and South Korea well into late 20th century. It is known as Kanpan (乾パン) in Japan and geonbbang (건빵) in South Korea, meaning ‘dry bread’, and is still sold as a fairly popular snack food in South Korea as well as in Japan. A harder hardtack than Kanpan called Katapan (堅パン) is historically popular in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka, Japan as one of its regional speciality foods.[10]

Many people who currently buy or bake hardtack in the US are Civil War re-enactors.[11] One of the units that continually bakes hardtack for living history is the USS Tahoma Marine Guard Infantry of the Washington State Civil War Association. British and French re-enactors buy or bake hardtack as well.

Hardtack is also a mainstay in parts of Canada. Located in fish and brewis, a traditional Newfoundland and Labrador meal. The third variety is Sweet Bread, which is slightly softer than regular hardtack due to a higher sugar and shortening content, and is eaten as a snack food. Canawa is another Canadian maker of traditional hardtack. They specialize in a high density, high caloric product that is well suited for use by expeditions.

A package of Purity hard bread with one hard bread biscuit in front

Hardtack is also referred to as a staple food of Chinese hard-labor workers in Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution by Ma Bo in his memoir.[12]

Hardtack, baked with or without addition of fat, was and still is a staple in Russian military rations, especially in the Navy, as infantry traditionally preferred simple dried bread when long life was needed. Called galeta (галета) in Russian, it is usually somewhat softer and crumblier than traditional hardtack, as most varieties made in Russia include at least some fat or shortening, making them closer to saltine crackers. One such variety, khlyebtsy armyeyskiye (хлебцы армейские), or “army crackers”, is currently included into modern Russian military rations, and other brands enjoy significant popularity among civilian population as well, both among campers and the general populace.

In Cappon magro.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ article on Hardtack
  2. ^ Definition of Pilot Bread
  3. ^ 19th United States Infantry
  4. ^ Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  5. ^ “HM Customs&Excise – differentiation of cakes and biscuits”.
  6. ^ Article on Hardtack from Cyclopædia
  7. ^ “Hardtack”. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  8. ^ “Spanish American Hardtack”. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
  9. ^ Beth Bragg, “Alaska cracker connection unbroken as Pilot Bread’s demise proves false”, Anchorage Daily News, November 6, 2007, p. A1.
  10. ^ ja:堅パン Katapan from Wikipedia
  11. ^ Olustee Battlefield Reenactment Everything from bacon and hardtack. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  12. 0-14-015942-8.

Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.

[edit] External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Hardtack, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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