Friday, October 28, 2011

That Spanish Empire really got around...

Popped by my local Asian grocery store and cruised the snack aisle, as I am wont to do.

I've noticed a lot more snacks from the Philippines becoming available in the past couple of years, but today I was surprised to make an unexpected, global connection.

Yes, that sure does look like Spanish writing on these crackers! I think that's Arabic at the top, too.
These are very, very similar to a snack I've enjoyed, called Cuban crackers. I've also heard that this type of cracker is known as "hard tack" and has been used as food for sailors for hundreds of years. How can this be? What in the world might Cuba, The Philippines and the USA have in common!? To understand, let's go back to the 1890s.

Spain still has a king and empire, but they aren't doing well. It's just not like the good old days of the 1700's for poor Espana, and there's this young, upstart country calling itself "The United States" who's been eyeing their colonies, both near and far.

Then a big boat called "The USS Maine" blows up in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. It turns out it was orchestrated by someone from the US that wanted to go to war with Spain, but that doesn't get talked about for another hundred years.

Meanwhile, back in the 1890s, anti-Spain catchphrases are propagated and the American people agree to "liberating" Cuba from the evil grasp of Spanish control. Hmm...blowing something up to gain public support for a war...because we want to "liberate" those people...wait why does this sound familiar? Nah! That couldn't possibly happen in this day and age!

The war was over quickly; it was Colonel Teddy Roosevelt's fun Spring and Summer vacation that year of 1898. America now is in possession of Cuba, Puerto Rico and....The Philippines and Guam?! Yep, we stripped Spain of its colonies, even way over there in the Pacific.

And that, my friends, is how Cuban crackers came to be made in The Philippines and sold in the USA. This whole Global Marketplace thingy isn't new.


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