By the time Shirley Temple sang Animal Crackers in My Soup1 during her 1935 performance in Curly Top, Animal Crackers had been around for nearly 40 years.

Animal Crackers, sometimes known as "Circus Crackers", made their way from England to the United States in the late 1800s. As demand grew for the animal-shaped cookies, American bakers made their own versions at home. In 1902, National Biscuit Company, now known as Nabisco, introduced their version, called Barnum's Animals, after the circus tycoon. Later that year, with the upcoming holiday season in mind, Nabisco designed a cardboard box resembling a circus wagon cage with an attached string handle for hanging on a Christmas tree.2

Once Mother said "My little pet"
you ought to learn your alphabet
So in my soup I used to get
All the letters of the alphabet
I learned them all from A to Z
And now my Mother's giving me:

Animal crackers in my soup
Monkeys and rabbits loop the loop
Gosh oh gee but I have fun
Swallowing animals one by one

In every bowl of soup I see
lions and tigers watching me
I make 'em jump right through a hoop
Those animal crackers in my soup

When I get hold of the big bad wolf
I just push him under to drown
Then I bite him in a million bits
And I gobble him right down

When their inside me where its dark
I walk around like Noah's Ark
I stuff my tummy like a goop
With animal crackers in my soup

Animal crackers in my soup
Do funny things to me
They make me think my neighborhood
Is a big menagerie

For instance there's our Janitor
His name is Mister Klein
And when he hollers at us kids
He reminds me of a lion

The grocer is so big and fat
He has a big moustache
He looks just like a walrus
Just before he takes a splash!

-Lyrics/Music T.Koehler & I.Caesar/R.Henderson

1 Curly Top (1935). 20th Century Fox.
2 100th Birthday, Barnum's Animals: History.

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