Phantom Gourmet About G. H. Bent Co.
Date Reviewed: 8/11/2001
Located just off Route 28 in Milton, Massachusetts is a piece of American History. The G.H. Bent Company, established in 1801, and in this very building since 1891, is where the historic "hardtack" cracker was born.
Made with just flour and water, the Bent's "hardtack" was a main source of sustenance for the Union troops during the Civil War. 150 years later, there is not much of a need for "hardtacks," so the company had moved on to other baked goods. But one day, current owner Gene Pierotti got a call that brought everything full circle.
Gene Pierotti, President, G.H. Bent Co.: "I got a phone call a few years ago, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, from a fellow up in Sturbridge Village, and he said, 'are you still making the Civil War crackers?' I said, 'I don't know anything about Civil War crackers. I flunked history, so I have no idea what they ate in the Civil War.'"
But after Gene did a little investigating and research, the G.H. Bent Company was back in the business of baking "hardtacks."
The crackers hit the spot for Civil War re-enactors, who strive to make every detail of their battles authentic, right down to the provisions. It takes a strong set of teeth to eat a "hardtack" as is, so they were often dipped in coffee, or cooked-up following this simple recipe.
Gene Pierotti: "If you soak them in cold water, they'll puff right up and absorb it, like a sponge. And then they fry that in bacon fat, and it's called 'skillygalee.' I don't particularly like that, but it's alright."
It's not the tastiest treat, and it's not really meant to be. But G.H. Bent is a company that knows how to grow.
James Pierotti, Vice President, G.H. Bent Co.: "And it is now truly evolved from crackers to a full service deli, and we do soups, salad, coffee, sandwiches, in addition to our heritage which has always been the cracker manufacturing."
G.H. Bent's first floor deli offers up about 20 different types of sandwiches, all served on their own fresh baked breads. The "Wildcat Club" is a triple-decker of turkey breast, ham, Muenster, bacon, honey Dijon, and mayo, on toasted sourdough. The "Academy" has hot-grilled chicken breast, melted American cheese, bacon, and buttermilk ranch dressing.
The sandwiches are larger than Lincoln's hat, but cost little more than the bill he graces.
Affordable, delectable, and historical... all the the G.H. Bent Company, a Phantom Gourmet, Hidden Jewel.