Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One more thing I love about Alaska...

I was at an event today in which a Yup'ik group I know danced at. One of the little girls in the group, still in preschool, got hungry during the performance, so her mother gestured to me in an amazing feat of sign language that looked like dancing.

I look the girl through the buffet line - it was really more of an appetizer line - and she picked out the things she wanted. She couldn't see into the basket with a variety of crackers, so I just asked her if she wanted a cracker.

That was mistake number one.

I took out a rectangular cracker. She looked at me and furrowed her eyebrows - shook her head no. I took out this wierd, papery looking cracker.

"A round one."

I took out a round, wheat-type cracker. She absolutely looked at me like I was an idiot.

"That's not a cracker."

For the life of me, I couldn't satisfy her cracker-craving one by one, so I took the whole basket (to the pleasure of the woman waiting for us) and brought it down so she could see. She looked at it real carefully, and then just said, "Where are the crackers?"

"Those are all crackers!"

"No, crackers are in a blue box."

It dawned on me that she was talking about Sailor Boy crackers - pilot bread! At four years old this child had learned one of the most important lessons of being Alaskan - the only cracker is a Sailor Boy cracker!

The Humble Sailor Boy Pilot Bread

The "First Alaskans" magazine ran an article several months back, addressing the rumor that the company making Sailor Boy crackers wasn't going to make them. They talked to the company - based in New Hampshire, and they reassured Alaskans that these valuable items would still be made. That article further went on to explain that, while the company was based in News Hampshire, 90% of the Sailor Boy crackers made their way to Alaska.

I had a similar experience years ago. While setting up for a church event, we set all sorts of snack goodies for kids to grab while they were waiting. We had fruit snacks and juice boxes, chocolate chip granola bars, bags of chips. The first kids to come in came were two little Native kids. They spied the table, ran right over - and grabbed the pilot bread.

Truly, I love this state!


Dale said...

OMG, Raven, I recognize those! You have solved a mystery from my childhood. Thank you!

When I was in Cub Scouts, one of the local troop masters somehow took possession of these pancake-sized crackers. He was not impressed, and was giving them away. Being young and impressionable, I took some to nibble on. (Honestly, I missed the salt, but I wasn't going to turn down "free".)

Here is a photo of the box, and a brief story of longing, for those of you who are interested.

CelticDiva said...

With PB&J...yummmmmmm...

Writing Raven said...

I'm thinking of starting a "favorite Pilot Bread topping" section now - mine is "fish crackers" - a loose (chunky) salmon dip with lots of relish on top of it. Or melted cheddar cheese. Or plain butter... Or..
Okay, now I'm hungry.
Interesting though, here's an article from the ADN

about it. I read your article, Dale, and it has pilot bread being made in Virginia. The article you have has it made in Washington, the one I read before has it in New Hampshire, and this one has it in Virginia. Could it be this is such a valuable product that it keeps being moved around, so it doesn't become a target of some evil plot? I will pay good tax money for that!

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