Oyster crackers are the small, hexagonal crackers (or "biscuits", if you're from the UK) often served along side chowders and other heavy soups, such as tomato soup. The origin of oyster crackers is uncertain, although people have been eating various incarnations of crackers alongside their respective porridges for many centuries.
The two prevailing theories regarding the etymology behind the term "oyster cracker" are as follows:
- As mentioned before, the crackers are often served in and with chowders, thus perhaps gaining association with oysters.
- The pale colour and small, flat shape of the crackers may, to some, resemble oysters.
Oyster crackers were not always six-sided, however -- it wasn't until the National Biscuit Company (later Nabisco) began marketing their hexagonal "Oysterettes" that this shape became the de facto design. The "Oysterettes" trademark itself was first used in 1900, and had activity in the USPTO as recently as 1992, although the trademark has since expired.
- "The Food Timeline -- History Notes": http://www.gti.net/mocolib1/kid/foodcookies.html
- USPTO TARR query: http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=72382819