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Excelsior Water Crackers | Jamaica's Favourite
by Kesha Stewart | Associate WriterThe Jamaica Biscuit Co Ltd (JAMBISCO)
was among the first manufacturing companies in Jamaica and was actually the first and largest biscuit company to be established here. JAMBISCO is the home of the brand Excelsior. But just how old is JAMBISCO? It was established in 1911 and has been manufacturing for over 100 years. Firstly from their factory on Church Street, Kingston, and after that and up to present, from 206 Spanish Town Road in Kingston. The company provides original and flavoured water crackers, salty snacks and cream-filled sandwich biscuits. The #1 JAMBISCO product is the Excelsior Water Crackers
which is commonly called tuff(tough)/hard crackers
. What do you know about Jamaican tuff crackers? Today, I will share some interesting facts and trivia about Excelsior Water Crackers.
- Are Excelsior Water Crackers still made like in the old days?
Answer: No. You will appreciate that 100 years ago manufacturing processes were very manual and tedious. At that time the crackers were baked using brick ovens.
- Why were Excelsior Water Crackers made?
Answer: They were intended to provide long-lasting food for people who travelled long distances.
- Who owns JAMBISCO?
Answer: In 1999, The Bermudez Group bought the company.
- Were Excelsior Water Crackers always packaged the way they are now?
Answer: No. They were initially sold in carton boxes which wholesalers bought and sold to persons who operated shops. Householders could then purchase retail amounts, such as a dozen, in their own receptacles or bags. Nowadays crackers are packaged in beautifully labelled bags are available in two sizes; 143g and 336g.
- How much would a dozen Excelsior Water Crackers cost at that time?
Answer: At that time 6 pence would get you a dozen and if you desired 2 dozen then you would have to fork out a whopping 6 pence.
- Has the texture and toughness of the Excelsior Water Crackers changed over time?
Answer: No. The cracker has maintained its original size and toughness- this is according to my mom.
- Where can I get Excelsior Water Crackers to buy?
Answer: Locally, it is at corner shops and even bars. Internationally, JAMBISCO’s brands are enjoyed in the USA, UK, Canada and Cayman Islands, you can make your purchases online as well.
- Do Jamaicans who travel or live in the Diaspora take tuff/hard crackers with them when they travel abroad?
Answer: Yes! You will definitely find this cracker stashed in the luggage of Jamaicans going to visit relatives abroad or those returning to their migrant homes. Yes, Excelsior Water Crackers is there right alongside bammy, fried fish and roasted breadfruit.
- Does JAMBISCO have other factories in Jamaica?
Answer: No. The company has 3 centralized distribution hubs in Kingston, Montego Bay and Mandeville. From these locations, the product is trucked not only to supermarkets and convenience stores but to small retailers and even individuals.
- Does hard crackers come in other flavours?
Answer Yes. there is an original unflavoured kind and a cinnamon flavour available.
I must be absolutely honest with you, it may be surprising to learn of the various ways Jamaicans use hard crackers. Seriously, I have never seen a cracker work so hard. Here are 9 ways we use the versatile Excelsior Water Crackers:
- Go gourmet and place various toppings on the cracker and serve as an Hors d'oeuvre.
- Spread peanut butter, jam, marmalade or Solomon Gundy on it for snacking,
- Serve it with cheese for lunch on the go,
- Dunk it in a hot or cold beverage at breakfast time,
- Crush then and serve with milk as a cereal,
- Dropping a few in our broth just before turning off the heat to make the broth a bit more filling,
- Give to babies as a substitute for teething rings.
- But do you know the most loved way to have Excelsior Water crackers is with steamed fish? We have been serving it this way for at least a century and it has never let us down.
- Straight from the pack one at a time.
- This one's for you. Tell us what you have seen others eat their hard crackers or with or how you choose to have it.
I also recommend you read Foods Eaten In Jamaica The Favorites & The Traditional
- Excelsior, Grace Foods, https://gracefoods.ca/product/excelsior/
- Our Companies, Bermudez Group, http://www.bermudezgroupltd.com/about-us/
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