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All About Hardtack

All About Hardtack

Hardtack is a simple type of cracker or biscuit, made from flour, water, and salt. Inexpensive and long-lasting, it is and was used for sustenance in the absence of perishable foods, commonly during long sea voyages and military campaigns. Because it is so hard and dry, properly stored and transported hardtack will survive rough handling and endure extremes of temperature. In fact, a common joke among American Civil War reenactors is that hardtack made 140 years ago "tastes just as good" now as it did back then.

The name derives from the British sailor slang for food, "tack." Hardtack is also known by other names such as pilot bread (as rations for bush pilots), ship's biscuit, shipbiscuit, sea biscuit, sea bread (as rations for sailors) or pejoratively "dog biscuits," "tooth dullers," "sheet iron" or "molar breakers." During the American Civil War, 3-inch by 3-inch hardtack was shipped out from Union and Confederate storehouses. Some of this hardtack had been stored from the 1846–8 Mexican-American War.

In 1801, Josiah Bent began a baking operation in Milton, Massachusetts selling "water crackers" or biscuits made of flour and water that would not deteriorate during long sea voyages from the port of Boston, which was also used extensively as a source of food by the "gold diggers" emigration to the gold mines of California in 1849. Since the journey took months from the starting point, pilot bread was stored in the wagon trains, as it could be kept a long time. His company later sold the original hardtack crackers used by troops during the American Civil War. The G. H. Bent Company is still located in Milton, and continues to sell these items to Civil War re-enactors and others.

This information above was provided by the previous owners of G. H. Bent Co. Currently, we are unsure of its original source and do not claim to know the whereabouts of the original source.  More information can be found on Wikipedia.

Today, G. H. Bent Company still manufactures Hardtack in the Milton, Massachusetts factory in a time-honored traditional manner using the same recipes, methods and machinery as our predecessors. Today, G. H. Bent Company still manufactures Hardtack in the Milton, Massachusetts factory in a time-honored traditional manner using the same recipes, methods and machinery as our predecessors.

 

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G. H. Bent Company, Bent's Cookie Factory
7 Pleasant Street • Milton, Massachusetts 02186
Phone: (617) 698-5945 • Fax: (617) 696-7730
E-mail: info@bentscookiefactory.com

 

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