Dayton’s historic Edgemont neighborhood is cocooned inside a crook in the Great Miami River, a winding waterway that snakes through the heart of southwest Ohio. Two miles from downtown, with its air of industry, the community hearkens to a time when Dayton was hailed “The City of A Thousand Factories.”
In the early 20th century, inside a foregone factory on the corner of Concord and Cincinnati Streets, Green & Green cracker company cooked up its Edgemont product line, a collection of grahams, crackers and gingersnaps that were shipped across the region. But of the company’s four Edgemont products, only one, in particular, a flaky one-by-one-inch cheese cracker, would revolutionize snack time. On May 23, 1921, when Green & Green decided to trademark the tasty treat’s unique name, the Cheez-It was born.
“In 1921, Cheez-It didn’t mean anything, so Green & Green marketed the cracker as a ‘baked rarebit,’ ” says Brady Kress, president & CEO of Dayton’s Carillon Historical Park, a nationally recognized open-air museum centered on the city’s history of innovation. (Inside Carillon Brewing Company, a fully operating 1850s brewery at the park, costumed interpreters still bake crackers over an open hearth.) “People were familiar with rarebit, a sort of melted cheddar beer cheese spread over toast. Cheez-It offered the same great taste, only baked down into a cracker that will last.”
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