Barnum’s Animal Crackers, small animal-shaped cookies that come in a distinctive circus car-shaped box, have been around for over a century. They were first introduced in 1902 when they were known simply as “Barnum’s Animal” and were sold in bulk, the boxes sold as optional extras. Now, they’re made by Nabisco and have a lot – to say the least – of nostalgic value since almost everyone had a box or three of the not-too-sweet cookies as a child.
I’ve thought about trying to recreate the cookies at home but the biggest obstacle is actually the shape, since very few cookie cutters can provide the pressed-in animal designs that are the cookies’ signature. It’s too tedious to try and add that detail manually. Fortunately, Williams-Sonoma is now carrying a line of Circus Animal Cookie Cutters. That look very similar to the “real” thing! The shapes are just adorable, and to make the whole thing more authentic, they have a circus car-shaped cookie jar, as well. The animals in the Barnum’s Cookies have changed in type and number over the years and the current mix includes: tiger, cougar, camel, rhinoceros, koala, kangaroo, hippopotamus, bison, lion, hyena, zebra, elephant, sheep, bear, gorilla, monkey, seal and giraffe. The cookie cutters only include five shapes: giraffe, elephant, seal, tiger and lion.
It’ll be fun to try and make the familiar cookies from scratch with the cookie cutters to give them such a detailed, professional look. If that’s a bit too much work, however, WS also has an organic animal cracker mix that might be worth a try.