Reading an article about NY mayor Adam’s use of “cracker”, I finally decided to look it up.

Whip cracker — makes sense.  White trash, southerners, … interesting read.

Perfectly fitting for most white people, from Zuckerberg to Bezos to Musk to Biden to Trump to the local tweakers and thieves.

The Secret History Of The Word ‘Cracker’

But it turns out cracker’s roots go back even further than the 17th century. All the way back to the age of Shakespeare, at least.

“The meaning of the word has changed a lot over the last four centuries,” said Dana Ste. Claire, a Florida historian and anthropologist who studies, er, crackers. (He literally wrote the book on them.)

Ste. Claire pointed me to King John, published sometime in the 1590s. One character refers to another as a craker — a common insult for an obnoxious bloviator.

What craker is this same that deafs our ears with this abundance of superfluous breath?

“It’s a beautiful quote, but it was a character trait that was used to describe a group of Celtic immigrants — Scots-Irish people who came to the Americas who were running from political circumstances in the old world,” Ste. Claire said. Those Scots-Irish folks started settling the Carolinas, and later moved deeper South and into Florida and Georgia.

But the disparaging term followed these immigrants, who were thought by local officials to be unruly and ill-mannered.

“In official documents, the governor of Florida said, ‘We don’t know what to do with these crackers — we tell them to settle this area and they don’t; we tell them not to settle this area and they do,” Ste. Claire said. “They lived off the land. They were rogues.”

By the early 1800s, those immigrants to the South started to refer to themselves that way as a badge of honor and a term of endearment. (I’m pretty sure this process of reappropriating a disparaging term sounds familiar to a lot of y’all.)

The crackers had their distinctive time-intensive cuisine — swamp cabbage, hoppin’ john, corn pone — and favored architectural styles meant to make cooking in the brutal Southern summers more bearable. There were baseball teams called the Crackers. According to Ste. Claire, we’ve even had a cracker president.

“Jimmy Carter is a cracker,” Ste. Claire said. “He’s an Oglethorpe, from Celtic-English cracker stock. I don’t know if he knows, but I think Jimmy Carter would proudly call himself one. ”

It was in the late 1800s when writers from the North started referring to the hayseed faction of Southern homesteaders as crackers. “[Those writers] decided that they were called that because of the cracking of the whip when they drove slaves,” Ste. Claire said. But he said that few crackers would have owned slaves; they were generally too poor. (That of course, doesn’t mean they weren’t participants in the South’s slave economy in other ways.)

Ste. Claire said that by the 1940s, the term began to take on yet another meaning in American inner cities in particular: