Yum. And milk. Or maybe toasted marshmallows and pieces of chocolate between two crispy graham crackers - "s'mores" I remember those from Girl Scouts when I was young. Sounds so wholesome, right? Graham crackers and milk are a common snack for children, and s'mores are a common dessert around the campfire. You would never think...
Graham crackers had their beginning in sex, or against sex more specifically.
Reverend Sylvester Graham was the "father of the graham cracker". He was an early American dietary reformer, advocating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and high fiber foods. The "Graham Diet" advised against meat, dairy and alcohol as a healthier diet, but more importantly, one that would prevent people from having impure, lustful thoughts and in turn stop them from masturbating, which was commonly known as "self-abuse" at the time. His cracker was originally conceived of as a health food for his diet.
Graham believed masturbation caused blindness and insanity. During the 1830's people with puritanical beliefs embraced his teachings to a certain extent. Sylvester believed that animal byproducts produced lust and his diet prohibited not only meat and dairy but spices as well. His followers, the "Grahamites", practiced abstinence from alcohol, frequent bathing, daily brushing of teeth, vegetarianism, and a generally sparse lifestyle. He campaigned and gave speeches tirelessly for his beliefs, at one point having trouble finding a place to lecture in Boston and fearing for his safety due to a riotous crowd of angry butchers and commercial bakers.
Reverend Graham died at the age of 57, in Northampton, Massachusetts, where a restaurant, Sylvester's, now sits on the former location of his house. "Grahamites" kept going strong from the 1860s to the 1880s, after which his following waned. Other than the white flour and sugar-filled graham cracker of today, which bears little resemblance to the original unsweetened whole grain cracker, he is thought to have contributed to frequent bathing in American culture!
Thanks for the showers, Reverend Graham. You had that one right. But the lust thing? I think if you had chosen a more sinful path, you may have lived a little longer. Oh, and sorry they trashed your cracker.