Hardtack

Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
370
#1
Bent's hardtack and hardtack crates were featured in the Warner Bros. movie Gods & Generals released February 21, 2003. Bent's Hardtack Cracker

For the survivors of the battles fought in the great "War Between the States" there was often a fate worse than death still to be faced; dinner. We hear of a song that was sung by the civil war soldier whose title remains unknown, but with a message that is very clear:
There's a hungry, thirsty soldier
Who wears his life away,
With torn clothes, whose better days are o'er
He is sighing now for whiskey
And, with throat as dry as hay,
Sings, "Hard crackers, hard crackers, Come again no more."

We here at Bent & Co., makers of the original hardtack of the Civil War, see this as nothing less than slanderous. In order to redeem the name of this fine food we would like very much for you to try our hardtack. Indeed, much of the damage to the hardtack cracker's reputation as the soldier's friend was the improper handling of the cracker rather than any fault in the cracker itself. Often the cracker was so stale as to be unbiteable, and just as often bug infested. This, we assure, you is no longer the case. Just as your bullets are blanks so as to cause you less pain in re-enacting the battles and skirmishes, so your Bent hardtack is packaged fresh in reseal able plastic so as to cause you less pain when re-enacting the supper. Because of the freshness of the cracker it can be eaten as is or prepared in any number of ways according to your taste and ingenuity. We hear of a dish called "skillygalee" in which the cracker is soaked in water and fried brown in pork fat, salting to taste. Though Julia Child may not serve this dish, neither would she go to the considerable trouble of dressing up in 1860's clothing and fight in the hot sun for a hilltop. The finer things in life must be gotten at some risk.
If you hold the spirit of authenticity dear, no other cracker will do. You have gone to considerable trouble to outfit yourself with all the proper attire and equipment, why not complete the outfit with the original hardtack? You will be singing the revised chorus of the above mentioned song,
"It is the dying wail of the starving,
Hard crackers, hard crackers, come again once more;
You were old and very wormy, but we pass your failings o'er,
O hard crackers, come again once more."

We salute you

http://www.bentscookiefactory.com/hardtack.htm
 

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johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
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#3
hehe that's why Myra loves the stuff. Sorry Martin but our unit has a wonderful farmer wife that loves to bake and makes us plenty of good hard tack. Unlike the Bent's I've bought it doesn't crumble apart after being stored for a week and it's considerably cheaper. There are enough authentic recipes floating around on the net that I could never w/ clear conscience suggest Bent's. Though their hardtack boxes are another matter entirely as they are made perfectly to the dimensions of the originals. I had been told that they no longer made them... I'm glad to hear that I was ill informed.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
#4
Shane,

I have to disagree with you on this one. Bent's hardtack has served me well for many a year, not only at reenactments but during my school presentations as well. I always lay in a large amount in the winter and during the spring and summer months, take them to the schools and pass them out.

I always get a great reaction when I warn the kids to watch out for worms and not to break their teeth on them.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
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#5
Neil,the box I bought was, unfortunately, mostly crumbs after being stored for about two weeks prior to an event. The stuff pretty much fell apart and while nothing was wrong w/ the flavor and it was useful for skilagee it was too crumbly to carry in my pocket. That's my own experiance. I've not bought any since. I wonder if I just got my paws on a bad batch.

We've been lucky to have Mrs. McNamara as she makes up a batch and it's the right consistancy, lasts and is the right price.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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#6
Shane,

You are right to go with your homemade batch from Mrs. McNamara, much more authentic and close to the front lines.

Bent Cracker company has always been good to me, so I am willing to be you got a bad batch. Stuff I get, when I let it air out, could stop a mine ball at twenty paces! Good example to pass out when I do my school and library presentations!

And I love it when some of my batch gets moldy and green! Talk about authentic! Classes of youngsters get all excited when I lay out a tin plate of raw salt pork and moldy crackers!

Ain't history grand?

Unionblue
 

scone

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
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Location
Mt. Juliet Tennessee
#7
I made some a year ago. Not really for eating but to use for demo.. a little thicker than the original.. mine turned out to be about 3/4 of inch ..

a few broke shortly afyter mak8ing it after taking a hit and landing on my haver sack .. my last event though a pard of mine in my unit where chsatting about theese tooth dullers and and I showed him what i had made.. and to my suprise he deside to try my yeard hard tack.. He said hit was the best that he had ever eaten including his own.. I was quite shocked. that he could even bite into it was over a tear old and i would have bet money that i could drive a nail with it. lol

regards. steven
 

larry_cockerham

Southern Gentleman, Lest We Forget, 2011
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Feb 20, 2005
Messages
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Nashville
#8
Gentlemen, while I've greatly enjoyed this discussion, I'm sticking to Cracker Barrell's Old Timer breakfast. No disrespect to Steven's hardtack.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Messages
34,452
Location
Near Kankakee
#10
And I can only shrug my shoulders in wonderment at how people can get so caught up in a hobby that they would actually try to survive a few days on pieces of shingle.

To each his own. I'll just retire to my library, flick on my reading lamp and select a book to finish or another to start. Or convert downloads of provided links into editable documents for reference.

To avoid being mistaken for an unbeliever, I admit to a particular fanaticism when it comes to the WBTS. I express mine by reading and creating useless documents on battles. Were I younger, I'd be with you in shelter-halves gnawing on whatever gawdawful junk was available, shivering or sweating, marching aimlessly back and forth in a bid to re-live what was.

Alas! My experience is now limited to watching and reading -- as yours must inevitably be. Soldiering is a youngster's business. Reenacting is, as well. Get it while you can, and share the secrets of inedible food! Learn. Understand. Celebrate our heritage. (And shoot some guns just for the helluvit.) You might touch a young soul or two to keep alive an appreciation of the time when a nation was born in blood, pain, and human endeavor.

My respects,
Ole
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
585
Location
Texas
#12
Sorry your attempt was abortive. I made a batch about a year ago. It turned out looking good and tasted as good as could be expected for such a recipe of baked paste. However, influenced by modern ideas of bug protection,etc., I stored it in a plastic bag. That was the ruination of it. It became moldy, probably because it wasn't totally dry when I bagged it. I suggest keeping it in a paper bag or wooden box if you have one.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
370
#13
I bought a bag of Meal in the Smokies at the water mill. It was sealed in a paper sack. I opened it about a month later at home. It was crawling with bugs. I didn't need any protein so I pitched it in the trash.
 


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