Ari’s Pick: Zingerman’s Bakehouse Graham Crackers

A terrific, healthy, tasty treat with a bit of a strange history

After a few months of being “on holiday,” Graham Crackers are back at the Bakehouse! If you’re one of the many folks who’ve been missing them, swing by and buy a pack or two!

a pile of Graham crackersOne of the things I love about the food that we do here in the ZCoB is that we’re so often able to take seemingly mundane, run of the mill, everyday foods and, by using well-written recipes, good technique, and much better ingredients than anyone else is willing to, we can turn them into something really extraordinary. The cream cheese from the Creamery, gritsoatmealoatmeal raisin cookiesZzang bars, and bagels are just a few of the things that come to mind. They’re all the sorts of things that one can easily take for granted in life, but, when you eat a really well-made version of it… all of a sudden you realize there was more than you might have let yourself remember.

The History of Graham Crackers

While almost every American will know of Graham Crackers, very few folks know their history. Sylvester Graham was an ordained Presbyterian minister who spent most of his life advocating the advantages of healthy diets. He pushed for increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables—not a common thing back in the first half of the 19th century in the US—and he was high on whole grains. In other ways, though, he was rather… out there. He was also nearly obsessed with getting people to forego sex, and he was adamant that too much black pepper would make you crazy!

graham crackers with chocolate and marshmallows in the backgroundBack in the 1830s he made a whole grain brown bread, called Graham Bread, that was supposed to help you stay calm. This was soon followed by a recipe for Graham Crackers. Both were supposed to calm/repress your … passions. (Graham’s theories were embraced, rather passionately, at Oberlin College. Historian Samuel Magida shares, “An entire college was eating Graham Crackers and water day in and day out.” One professor was fired for putting black pepper on a dining table!)

Bakehouse Graham Crackers

Our Graham Crackers are made with butter, Demerara sugar from Mauritius, clover honey, Indonesian cinnamon, fresh eggs, some sugar, and a little touch of ground ginger. They taste terrific on their own, with coffeetea, and hot chocolate. Great for school lunches or work as a pick-me-up (during a long Zoom call?). You can crumble the Graham Crackers onto gelato. They make a wonderful crust for cheesecake. They’re great with cream cheese and lemon curd or jam.

My favorite thing to do with them is simply to eat a small bit of one paired with great dark chocolate. It takes about twenty seconds to put the two together, but you’ll end up with a world-class bite of sweet complexity to raise the quality of your day! Of late I’ve been very high on Shawn Askinosie’s Amazonia bar, and also the Marou bar from Vietnam that’s made with Vietnamese coffee.

Hungry for More?

Ari headshot
Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's | + posts

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.

Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.

One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.

Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.

Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!

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