Ritz Crackers (History, Varieties, Pictures & Commercials)

Ritz is a circular cracker with ridge edges. Ritz is crunchy, but easy to bite into crackers, and is salted on one side. Other varieties of Ritz exist, such as Ritz’s “Hint of Salt” and “Garlic Butter” flavor. Ritz Crackers are a fairly simple snack but have won over consumers with that simplicity. Ritz makes use of the color red for much of its branding, a noticeable color that denotes warmth, something that blends well with the taste and aesthetics of Ritz Cracker’s snacks. Ritz is also popular for its use in a wide variety of recipes and usefulness in combining the crackers with other foods. Ritz are golden and are about 2 inches wide.

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

Ritz Crackers

Ritz Crackers – General Information

Ritz Crackers are a brand of snack crackers introduced by Nabisco in 1934 and are currently manufactured by Mondelez International, a spin-off of Kraft Foods. The circular, lightly salted cracker with a small scalloped edge became a top seller soon after it was introduced and has been ranked at or near the top of America’s snack polls for a number of years.

In 1934, during the Depression, Americans yearned for something fancy and exquisite, so a Nabisco employee came up with the name Ritz for its new cracker to help sell it. An employee, Sydney Stern, had one weekend to come up with a marketing idea to compete with Sunshine Biscuits’ most successful cracker. Sydney Stern helped design the box to appeal to consumers. Nabisco introduced the Ritz cracker to the Baltimore and Philadelphia markets on Nov. 21, 1934.

Many are familiar with the buttery-tasting original Ritz cracker, but there are other varieties available, from Low Sodium and Reduced Fat Ritz to Whole Wheat, Bacon, Garlic and Honey Butter Ritz. There are Ritz crackers that come in alternative sizes, including Crisps & Thins, a thinner version of the original cracker and Ritz Bits, bite-sized versions with peanut butter and cheese fillings. Ritz Fresh Stacks come in shorter sleeves so they stay fresher longer. Ritz Toasted Chips has been sold in five different flavors and small packs of Ritz Cracker Sandwiches, which are filled with peanut butter, cheddar and cream cheese.

You can eat Ritz Crackers straight out of the pack or Ritz in recipes to create a wide variety of dishes. A recipe for Mock Apple Pie that was found on the back of boxes may have been invented by Nabisco during the 1930s, when apples were hard to come by, according to culinarylore.com. The recipe uses Ritz crackers, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon instead of apples. Ritz crackers can go in casseroles, main courses, side dishes and desserts and can be used with macaroni and cheese, baked chicken and butter toffee cookies.

Ritz Crackers has had a few slogans over the years, such as in tv commercials with Andy Griffith saying, “Everything tastes great when it sits on a Ritz,” maybe the cracker’s best-known advertising message. There are many more current executions, including the 2015 “Life is Rich” campaign that invoked the Depression-era founding of Ritz to promote the cracker and used a hit song by New Kids on the Block to support it.

A campaign in 2016 utilized an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response sound design technique to accentuate the crispiness when eating a Ritz cracker as part of a TV and online campaign.

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Ritz crackers make a simple but time-proven snack, they can be eaten on their own for a light snack or topped with peanut butter or cheese to add more complexity and flavor to the snack. Ritz is said to have a buttery flavor to it, and Ritz is often sold in cardboard boxes that contain inner plastic packages that are very long and narrow that contain the crackers themselves.

The Year Ritz Crackers Was invented

Ritz Crackers was invented in the year 1934 and was first introduced by Nabisco. The original cracker that gave life to this now very famous cracker was a product made in the early 1900s by Jackson Cracker Company of Jackson, Michigan. The cracker was also small and round and it was called the Jaxon. This is the product that was first brought to Nabisco and the name of the cracker was immediately changed by Nabisco execs to Ritz.

The first Nabisco product was actually intended to compete with a product called the Hi Ho Cracker that was made by major competitor Sunshine Biscuits. The name Ritz was actually the product of the work of employee Sydney Stern who also made the marketing plan for the new product. Stern said later that she chose the name to help make post-depression-era people feel like they were getting a taste of the high life when they bought these crackers.

Stern also said that the original blue circle with the yellow lettering that was used for years to market the product was also his idea. While execs at Nabisco were worried that this name and the basic styling of the logo would not connect with people and might even injure people’s feelings, thy should not have worried. Stern knew what he was doing and people really did feel like these practical snacks were giving them a small taste of a better life than they had lost during the depression era.

The release date of the Ritz crackers right in the middle of the great depression should have made them a resounding failure. After all, people did not have much money and what money they did have was not being funneled into snacks that were not an essential. However, the marketing that Stern had dreamt up was spot on because people were looking for any sign that the world was going to get back on track. Being able to buy a basic item like a cracker that was linked with luxury gave them a small glimmer of hope that the world would someday get back on track.

Affordable luxury was the basis for the brand’s early success and the original boxes were sold for 19 cents. While these were affordable treats that everyone could buy, the scarcity of good food during this era meant that everyone was eating these crackers, rich and poor alike. So people in dire straights really were enjoying the fine dining that wealthy people were still able to afford, even if the food they were sharing was just a humble, but a tasty little cracker.

This kind of successful marketing would later allow Stern to redesign the Animal Crackers boxes to offer images of the zoo and to work on the Shredded Wheat campaigns that we are all so familiar with today, many generations later. Ritz might not have made its way into the hearts of Americans without the hard work of Stern, who was actually an artist as well as a marketing genius.

Ritz were on the menu at the Waldorf-Astoria during the depression and this might have been partially related to the name. “Ritz” was a term that inclusively meant anything upscale, fancy, or aspirational during this period. Ritz crackers might have been humble butter crackers, but they were labeled in a way that said they were far more than that.

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Ritz Crackers Logo

Buy Ritz Crackers Online

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Ritz Varieties

This cracker was sold without any additional varieties for a very long time. There are now a few different ways that these crackers can be enjoyed for those who want something other than the simple, buttery classic cracker to munch on:

  • Originals
  • Crisp & Thins – Cream Cheese and onion, salt and vinegar, sea salt, jalapeno, buffalo, sweet chili, sour cream, and smoked chipotle, barbeque, and bacon
  • Fresh Stacks
  • Ritz Bits – peanut butter and cheese centers
  • Toasted Chips
  • Cracker Sandwiches- peanut butter and cheese flavors
  • Seasonals
  • Cheese Crispers
  • Go-Packs
  • Multipacks
  • Roasted vegetable
  • Everything
  • Honey Wheat
  • Sociables

Other than the seasonal varieties, these variations are sold all the time and you can get them at most locations that also sell the original crackers. Some of the variations like honey wheat and roasted vegetable are not always sold alongside the originals. They are made in the same style unlike the various flavors of the crisp version of the crackers.

Sociables are the Canadian version of these crackers and they are largely the same as far as ingredients, and the packaging looks much the same but they come in various shapes. These crackers are square, round, x-shaped, and triangular. The flaky nature of the American version is also reduced in the Canadian cracker. Their version is more like a Chicken in a Biskit cracker than what Americans will think of as a Ritz.

The Company That Owns Ritz Crackers

Ritz is owned by Mondelez International. The company is headquartered near Chicago and manufactures chocolate, cookies, biscuits, gum, confectionery, and powdered beverages. Modelz International also owns products such as Sour Patch Kids, Ice Breakers, and is part owner of Oreo O’s Cereal.

Ritz Crackers Ingredients

Here are the ingredients for Ritz Crackers.

  • Unbleached enriched flour (Wheat flour, Niacin, Reduced iron, Thiamine mononotrate (Vitamin B1, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid)
  • Canola Oil
  • Palm oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Leavening (Calcium phosphate, baking soda)
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Natural Flavor

Ritz Crackers Nutrition

Serving Size: 5 crackers (16g) % Daily Value*
Amount Per Serving
Calories 80
Total Fat 4.5g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 130mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 10g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 1g
Added Sugars 1g 2%
Protein 0.5g
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 20mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 13mg 0%
  • The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Ritz are actually vegan, which is a really nice benefit for those who follow this diet. There are not many mass-produced food products that are fully vegan and these little buttery, crumbly crackers can be enjoyed by those who follow the vegan diet.

Some of the alternate flavor varieties will have different ingredients to create a flavor profile that is unique to that product. The original recipe is the foundation of everything but the crisps, which are made in a slightly different way than the original crackers due to the differing texture. Most of the flavor varieties that are offered for this brand are related to the crisps. The original recipe might be slightly different in some of the products that are made to be used for sandwiches as well.

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Ritz Marketing

As mentioned earlier, the Ritz cracker was marketed in the Great Depression era as a sign of luxury and good taste. This meant that even famous upscale hotels were using them for appetizers and other food on their menus. The name alone made the early years of the cracker a big success, despite Nabisco’s early worries that the name would offend people who were struggling just to get by.

Ads in the early years for Ritz crackers showed golfers and those on luxury cruises being served Ritz crackers by uniformed servants. Some classic Americana-style ads were made with little girls holding up the crackers and declaring, “the Ritz James!”

This early connotation with luxury and wealth served these little crackers well for many years, but when the financial situation of Americans improved, the ads needed to change. Snack foods experienced a huge uptick in popularity in the 50s, and there were suddenly many competitors both in the candy space and in the cracker space.

Ads and marketing for the crackers switched from the fancy nature of these indulgences to their healthy ingredients and slogans that indicated that you couldn’t eat just one of these delicious crispy snacks. The products were by now sold in sleeves, so you were also almost encouraged by the packaging to eat the whole sleeve in a sitting.

Some of the other marketing over the years of the 80s and 90s focused on how well-designed Ritz were for appetizers and grab-and-go eating. Both “yuppie” sensibilities and the increasingly corporate and busy lifestyles of younger people were appealed to with this marketing ploy. Children who grew up during this time will remember clearly the TV ads that showed Ritz being used for appetizers at fancy parties as well as ads with young children gobbling up these treats as they did exciting and active things.

Ritz has always managed to stay ahead of the social curve and the company continues to market these handy snacks based on accurate predictions of the changes in the social nature of eating that inevitably occur. One of the current slogans that the company is using is, “delicious snacks are always welcome”. The website for the crackers still focuses on images of Ritz being used as yummy appetizers because this remains one of the most popular ways to enjoy these small and round crackers.

Other slogans that are in use currently are, “a taste of welcome” and, “we believe there’s always room for one more”. The messaging is clear and you are made to understand that these are highly snackable treats that are also good for you. While most snacks are scrambling to try and prove that they are not full of unhealthy additives these days, Ritz does come to the forefront as a healthier choice than some competitors’ products.

While the original slogan, “An affordable taste of luxury” might be gone these days and the connection with luxury and Ritz is no longer central to the marketing plan for the product, the connection with America’s current sensibilities about snacks are still clear. Ritz always wants to appeal to people where they are currently at with regards to snacking and their success at this kind of marketing has cemented this cracker as one of America’s most beloved snacks.

Pictures of Ritz Crackers

Ritz Crackers Commercials

A current Ritz ad focusing on family and also on social change of various kinds:

One of the kid-centric Ritz ads:

A really fun ad with Sofia Vergara:

Ritz Crackers FAQ

How many Ritz crackers in a sleeve?

Fresh Stacks contain 13 crackers each and are individually wrapped for portability and to maintain freshness.

How many calories in Ritz Crackers?

There are 80 calories in each serving of 5 crackers (16g)

How many carbs in Ritz Crackers?

Ritz Crackers (1 round cracker) contains 2g total carbs.

Who makes Ritz Crackers?

Ritz is owned by Mondelez International. The company is headquartered near Chicago and manufactures chocolate, cookies, biscuits, gum, confectionery, and powdered beverages.

What are Ritz Crackers made of?

Here are the ingredients for Ritz Crackers.
Unbleached enriched flour (Wheat flour, Niacin, Reduced iron, Thiamine mononotrate (Vitamin B1, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid) Canola Oil Palm oil, Sugar, Salt, Leavening (Calcium phosphate, baking soda), High fructose corn syrup, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor.

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments below. Thank you!

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14 thoughts on “Ritz Crackers (History, Varieties, Pictures & Commercials)”

  1. As a child, the treat at my grandmother’s house was a ritz cracker with peanut butter and a small dollop of homemade black raspberry jelly. Yum! This was in the 1950’s. Are the crackers smaller than in the early 50’s? It seems to me that they are, but still delicious.

    Reply
    • I’ve had the same question for years (to go with my 1955 pie recipe), but the manufacturer(s) have never responded to me. I’ve been increasing the number of crackers by 20%. I don’t think they are smaller, but they are less dense.

      Reply
  2. There was a recipe on the box of Ritz in the 1970’s for a mushroom-mix atop a Ritz that was baked. Anyone have it? It was delicious.

    Reply
  3. One variety that’s not listed on this site is Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers. I like these more than the original Ritz. Ritz-Bits are also really good. I can’t decide if I like the peanut butter ones or the cheese ones more. They might actually be tied for me.

    Reply
  4. My box of Ritz crackers says made in Mexico. I won’t buy a car made in Mexico, so I won’t be buying Ritz crackers any more.

    Reply
  5. Ot gives me joy to see the little girl and the elderly man dancing in the street. I think it should have been longer but I had so much joy and laughter seeing it. Thank you for happiness.

    Reply
  6. What happened to the rich buttery taste Ritz Crackers used to have? It ain’t there anymore and I’m deeply disappointed! Y’all gonna make me buy Townhouse crackers from now on.

    Reply
  7. Ritz are definitely not the cracker they used to be. Now drier, more crumbly, and with all the flavor of a spoonful of baking soda. We’re looking for a substitute – stumbled on this site trying to find out what happened.

    Reply
  8. PLEASE, ANYONE THAT HAS THE RECIPE THAT WAS ON THE BACK OF BOXES IN THE LATE 70S OR EARLY 80S FOR A CHEESE RICE PIE WITH SAUTED ONIONS AND CURRY POWDER , IVE BEEN LOOKING FOR YEARS ! PLEASE HELP ME ! SOMEONE HAS TO HAVE IT !

    Reply
  9. Most of us are getting off meat and this was so good , the church I belonged to back then had a lot of vegetarians and everyone loved this

    Reply

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