What You Should Know Before Eating At Cracker Barrel AgainRandall Smitham September 12, 2019 91 Comments
Cracker Barrel has dotted the sides of U.S.
interstates since 1969, when founder Danny
Evins had a hunch travelers were looking for
a pitstop food option that wasn’t fast food.
He was right, but there are some things you
should know before heading to the highway
According to Southern Living, Cracker Barrel
isn’t just giving homage to the literal barrels
of soda crackers it used to have available
for purchase in the country stores at each
The actual Merriam-Webster definition of cracker-barrel
is, quote, “suggestive of the friendly homespun
character of a country store.”
Ah yes, it all makes sense now, doesn’t it?
So Cracker Barrel aimed to be a place where
diners could have a cracker-barrel experience
in an atmosphere adorned by literal barrels
with crackers in them, or cracker barrels.
The famous logo for the interstate staple
does, indeed, feature a gent in a rocking
chair leaning on a barrel full of what one
can only assume are crackers, and all visitors
are familiar with the welcoming, country store-type
Cracker Barrel is simply a name more complicated
than it seems at first glance, and it’s one
that recognizes the brand’s history and mission.
It’s also one that reminds us we need more
adjectives like “cracker-barrel” in our regular
Cracker Barrel does not mess around when it
comes to the rocking chairs decorating the
patios of its many outposts.
It sticks to the friendly southern front porch
theme and nothing will stop it.
Southern porch aesthetic aside, the iconic
rocking chairs serve another purpose: You
need somewhere fun to sit because the wait
time to get a table at Cracker Barrel can
be quite long.
Those rocking chairs are made for Cracker
Barrel by the Hinkle Chair Company in Springfield,
Tennessee, so yes, even they are authentically
They have some pretty impressive roots, too,
as it’s a family company that has been in
the furniture-making biz since their triple-great
grandfather started a side hustle from his
farm almost 180 years ago.
Grandpops would be proud, as they make about
200,000 rocking chairs a year for Cracker
Barrel restaurants, and even though you can
buy chairs through Hinkle themselves, you’ll
need to buy it directly from Cracker Barrel
if you want that signature medallion on your
own front porch.
They’ll set you back $170, but it’s nice to
know Cracker Barrel is true to its roots even
with the furniture, which is not only American-made,
They regularly run charitable programs such
as Operation Rocker, and donate a huge number
of rockers to military families across the
That’s the sort of thing you can feel good
about while rocking away in your own.
In 2017, the firing of one Cracker Barrel
employee led to legions of Internet trolls
and memes poking fun at the down-home country
A man named Bradley Reid Byrd posted to Facebook
that he was livid with Cracker Barrel for
terminating his wife, who had been working
at the restaurant for over a decade.
He entrusted his Facebook followers with going
to the Cracker Barrel Facebook page, calling
them out, and asking what had really happened.
The Internet really delivered because from
that moment on.
Anything the restaurant posted on its social
media was lambasted with comments about Brad’s
It even birthed the hashtag #JusticeforBradsWife.
Within a week, there were tons of memes inspired
by the event, and offers of employment for
Brad’s wife, Nanette.
The meme had some serious staying power, too.
Years later, there are still folks trolling
Cracker Barrel’s Facebook with “Brad’s Wife”
jokes and memes.
But really, you can’t blame Cracker Barrel
for staying mum.
Would you want a former employer telling the
world why they fired you?
Let it be known: Cracker Barrel isn’t in the
business of handing out free grub.
In fact, one of their employees was fired
for giving a homeless man a muffin and some
condiments at a Cracker Barrel location in
The worker, Joe Koblenzer, a 73-year-old military
veteran, claimed the man came in asking for
tartar sauce and mayo to eat with the fish
he was cooking, so Koblenzer kindly obliged
with some free condiments along with a corn
muffin for good measure.
Then, the general manager of the Cracker Barrel
canned Koblenzer for violating a policy that
prohibits giving away free food.
To be fair to Cracker Barrel, Koblenzer acknowledged
he had already broken some rules prior to
the tartar sauce incident.
So legally, if someone’s had a couple of slaps
on the wrist already, they are within their
right to fire him.
Still, Cracker Barrel does sort of come off
like the bad guy for telling a worker to deny
someone in need of a very minute amount of
But them’s the rules, and they’ve got a business
It seems as though Southern hospitality only
goes so far.
“Mr Jordan, I saw you steal my sink.”
You may have thought you were a Cracker Barrel
super fan but you’ve got nothing on Wilma
and Ray Yoder from Goshen, Indiana.
The octogenarian couple have made it their
mission to go to every Cracker Barrel in America.
In August 2017, they met their goal when they
hit an Oregon Cracker Barrel that was very
the location that marked a grand total of
645 restaurants for the chain.
Ray Yoder started frequenting the restaurants
more than 40 years ago when he was working
for a company that delivered recreational
vehicles all over the country.
He says the visits alleviated the tediousness
of his trips.
His wife Wilma started accompanying him and
after three decades of the duo’s treks, the
chain started to publicly acknowledge their
The company even celebrated the couple’s arrival
at the 645th restaurant in Oregon, giving
them free aprons and a hearty welcome from
Of course, the Yoders’ goal is never really
complete as Cracker Barrel continues to add
more locations every year.
Honestly, they don’t seem to mind.
Let the Yoders be a lesson — there are definitely
perks to staying loyal to a brand.
If you’re planning to dine at Cracker Barrel,
may we not suggest the Southern Fried Chicken?
Health-wise, it’s easily one of the worst
items on the menu.
It weighs in at a whopping 1,640 calories,
and has 100 grams of fat, and an astounding
4,730 milligrams of sodium.
None of those numbers even include the two
sides and endless biscuits.
And if you’re dining on Sunday, watch out
for the featured special: the Homestyle Chicken.
The Lord’s day is definitely not the heart’s
day in the case of Cracker Barrel, because
this dish weighs in at 1,350 calories and
92 grams of fat.
“I state my regret,”
Of course, you can order these chicken dishes
if you’re just dying to give them a try, but
we certainly wouldn’t recommend making it
a weekly event.
If you are going to take the plunge, maybe
split the meal with your fellow Cracker Barrel
If you’re thinking about giving the whole
Thanksgiving Day hassle a miss this year and
just getting your dinner from Cracker Barrel,
you’d better get in line.
Cracker Barrel confirmed in a press release
that Thanksgiving Day is, in fact, their most
jam-packed day of the year.
Across the country on this feasting holiday,
they estimate they serve 650,000 pounds of
turkey and 1.1 million slices of pie.
The other Thanksgiving staples it slings out
in massive quantities include 8 million ounces
of gravy and 1.6 million ounces of cranberry
Who would have thought cranberry was that
This includes carry-out turkey day meals,
as well as dine-in grub, so bottom line?
If you plan to eat at Cracker Barrel this
Thanksgiving, plan accordingly.
You won’t be the only one.
Cracker Barrel is very deliberate with its
All of the locations are full of authentic
antiques and the layout of each new restaurant
In fact, there is even a mock restaurant in
their headquarters used to lay out the decor
of new locations.
The design theme comes from the general stores
that used to be the name of the game in the
late 19th and early 20th century, when they
started to exist as a solution for peddlers
sick of being on the road.
They were nothing fancy, but they did serve
as a one-stop shop of a lot of your basic
needs — and that’s the spirit Cracker Barrel
is going for, and it’s why the items for sale
in the Cracker Barrel store range from everything
you need to decorate your own country kitchen
to gospel music CDs.
While the historical vibe might not be exactly
what the store vibe was a century ago, the
restaurant’s commitment to preserving the
American country general store, with both
its retail items and its decor, really serves
as a living museum of American history.
And that museum also happens to have some
pretty legit chicken fried steak.
In 2016, Cracker Barrel got into the fast
casual market with Holler & Dash, a biscuit
house that serves up breakfast, brunch, and
lunch, with a titillating array of savory
and sweet options.
The menus vary by city, but the vibe is decidedly
minimalistic and industrial.
The Holler & Dash locations are very unlike
Cracker Barrel, and while the fate of the
Holler & Dash spin-off is unknown for the
long-term, props to Cracker Barrel for trying
to make biscuits a novel concept.
In the meantime, if you find yourself heading
to Cracker Barrel and wishing you could get
more of those delicious biscuits and only
those biscuits, this might be the place for
Cracker Barrel has a bit of a sordid reputation
when it comes to progress on some hot button
According to the New York Times, in 1991 there
was a company-wide directive to fire any Cracker
Barrel workers who had, quote, “sexual preferences
[that] fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual
More than a dozen employees were fired, and
many spoke out and comdemned this as a blatant
act of discrimination against gay people.
Cracker Barrel founder Danny Evins eventually
apologized and retracted the policy, but the
New York City Employees Retirement System
insisted that an apology just wasn’t going
They demanded he make the forbidding of discrimination
explicitly official in Cracker Barrel corporate
Cracker Barrel got some negative attention
that plagued the brand for a while, but they’ve
Fast forward, and attitudes seem to be different.
In June 2019, Cracker Barrel was in the news
for refusing to let a pastor who’d expressed
anti-gay sentiments hold an event at one of
“Progress. It’s the reason why your grandparents’ views are best not spoken in public”
Cracker Barrel hasn’t always been on the right
side of history when it comes to race relations
In the early 2000s, the Justice Department
accused the company of acting with racial
bias on several occasions.
A civil rights investigation revealed instances
of mistreatment of black patrons at Cracker
Barrels across several states in the southern
region of the U.S., and the accusations — along
with the findings — were pretty horrible.
Employees that participated in the investigation
admitted that practices such as seating based
on the race of the customer were basically
encouraged by management, and employees also
claimed that a customer’s also impacted the
level of service they received.
And this was in 2004.
A rep for Cracker Barrel at the time said
they didn’t believe the accusations, but nonetheless
were going to move forward with an aggressive
plan to address the complaints.
Just how far that progressed attitudes, it’s
difficult to say — particularly because
more accusations have been leveled at the
In 2018, US Air Force veteran Randy Freeman
was at a Cracker Barrel in West Virginia and
was accused by a manager of cursing at a server.
Witnesses confirmed no such thing had happened,
and condemned it as the actions of a management
that was just looking for an excuse to kick
him out of the restaurant.
Freeman took Cracker Barrel to court over
the behavior, and the company found itself
dealing with some extremely negative press
Hopefully the company is working to resolve
the systematic issues that have plagued the
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