Polly wants a cracker!
Who hasn’t heard the old saying, “Polly wants a cracker?”. This well-known phrase was certainly part of the Dozier Weyl Cracker Company advertising campaigns. They were based in St. Louis, MO and cleverly used a parrot in their advertising to help them sell their cracker products. The parrot is illustrated in their giveaways from the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s.
In this scene pictured in the first tradecard, “Boss Cracker’, the parrot says “You can telegraph your folks this is the Boss Cracker”. Cleverly, the parrot is sitting on top of a old telegraph line, which in the late 1800s when this card was produced was still a novel invention. This was also well before Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone.
The other trade card, “Parrot Gun”, shows how the “parrot gun could fire crackers at the rate of 1400 barrels of flour daily” to make the company’s crackers.
The Dozier Weyl Cracker Company
The Dozier Weyl Company was started in 1872 when the two partners bought out the J. Garneau cracker plant located at Sixth and Pine Streets in downtown Saint Louis. By 1888 Mr. Dozier bought out his partner and the company was named the Dozier Cracker Company. This was short lived though, as in 1898 both the Dozier Cracker and the Holmes and Coutts Cracker Company which was in NYC, joined to form the National Biscuit Company, later called Nabisco. Shortly after the founding of the National Biscuit partnership, they launched their new line of crackers. These are still sold all around the world today, best known as Animal Crackers with their distinctive zoo looking boxes.
In the Dozier-Weyl company’s height of business, they were using over 1,400 barrels of flour a day to manufacturer their crackers. Some stories quote them as being the largest cracker company in the world. The company parrot was certainly part of their image and helped with the company’s success!