Anatomy of the cookie, cracker and biscuit

My friend and I happened to ponder on one of the universe’s mysteries: the difference between a biscuit and a cracker. Weeks ago, we were eating biscuits and he asked about the difference between the two. We’d usually just eat them right away without giving a thought on their distinction.

I scanned the recesses of my memory. I might recover old home economics stuff stacked in my mental archives. But I didn’t. I told him maybe it’s with the way they are made although I don’t exactly know how. Then again, I guess you’d know the difference when you eat or see one.

So I checked the dictionary. It might be able shed some light on the matter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t of any help. A biscuit is defined as a “small soft raised bread”. ‘Biscuit’ is also what the British call cookies or crackers. The definition for cracker added more to our confusion — a cracker is “a thin flat crisp biscuit”. Will Webster make up his mind?

I asked another friend of mine. Perhaps she’d know the distinction. According to her, a cracker is a biscuit that “craaaaacks” while a biscuit is one that doesn’t. The evolution from crackers into biscuits (or maybe it’s the other way around) makes for a “confusing genealogy”.

Arthur C. Clarke would have been mystified as well. My friend and I finally came to a conclusion: crackers crack, biscuits break and cookies crumble. They’re not specific definitions but it still makes sense.

But I guess it doesn’t matter as long as you can eat them, right?



  1. Sonus · July 17, 2007

    Well I googled the two terms and it seems that crackers are dry biscuits. And biscuits vary in meaning in the world. In the UK, biscuits are small sweet cakes for desserts much the same to American scones. In the US biscuits are similar to scones.
    And yes, I realize that didn’t enlighten anyone one bit.

  2. Pingback: Here’s to twelve years of blogging | 遠くへ

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