No, The Name 'Cracker Barrel' Isn't Racist

Remember when you were in school and couldn't cite Wikipedia because it wasn't a credible source? That's how I feel sometimes when it comes to the entirety of the internet. Today, Twitter user DOMODADONN, posted the following image of a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store sign, questioning the meaning of the Cracker Barrel Name.

The image, which was screenshotted from somewhere else, stated:

Cracker was a slang term for whip. Thats why blacks called whites crackers, from the crack of the whip. A cracker barrel is a barrel that held the whips for sale at the country store. You see the whip going from the R to the K? Racism in your face!!

Immediately users on Twitter started fighting whether Cracker Barrel restaurants were named after the offensive slur.

The Meaning Behind the Name Cracker Barrel

According to Mashed, the name Cracker Barrel is connected to two ideas. The first is the actual Merriam-Webster definition of "cracker-barrel", which means suggestive of the friendly homespun character of a country store." The first known use of the term was in 1916 and the first Cracker Barrel location and general store opened in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1969. The gift shop was always a vital part of the brand, inviting customers to grab snacks on the road and skipping the fast food.

The second is connected with the barrels of soda crackers the restaurant chain would sell to hungry travelers. In fact, you can only imagine that there are soda crackers in the barrel on the logo. The logo was created by Bill Holley, a designer in Nashville. He sketched the first logo on a napkin according to the corporate website. The logo was created to remind customers of sitting on rocking chairs on the front porch.

Cracker Barrel's Controversies

The down-home comfort food restaurant has been in the media quite a few times in regards to civil rights. In the 1990s Dan Evins, the founder and CEO placed an official company policy prohibiting the hiring of any individual whose "sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values." The backlash was immediate, with shareholders such as the New York City Employee Retirement System threatening to vote out the entirety of upper management. The company quickly backpedaled, however, Evins still encouraged discriminating against females and minority employees. Evins was stripped of his CEO and President title in July 2001.

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In May 2004, a filing with the U.S. Department of Justice alleged that Cracker Barrel employees at approximately 50 of the company's 500 locations (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) discriminated against black customers. The company settled out of court and implemented policies to stop the discrimination from happening again.

The name of Cracker Barrel may not have racist roots, but the image of Cracker Barrel is anything but squeaky clean. Most recently a customer noticed some decor in a restaurant dining room that resembled a noose.

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