Free at Last

After 116 years, our beloved childhood snack has officially changed for the better! Almost everyone remembers the fun shapes of Barnum’s Animals Crackers, but did you ever notice that the animals on the box were in cages? Well, not anymore! With help of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), these iconic animals are freed from their cages and can roam naturally.



The old cover is reminiscent of the abuse that animals of traveling circuses endure. PETA, in a statement to the parent company of Nabisco, Mondelez International states, “Circuses tear baby animals away from their mothers, lock animals in cages and chains, and cart them from city to city.”  Since the establishment of the cracker brand in 1902, the cover has occasionally featured endangered animals to raise awareness money. Other than that, the cover has rarely ever changed, making this new cover groundbreaking. A spokesperson of Mondelez International said that they are trying “To continue to make the brand relevant for years to come,” and that presenting animals in their natural habitat was the next step in the brand's evolution.


But with two steps forward there is always a step back. The food industry especially has a negative reputation for how they treat their animals. Many brands in the food industry are using words like “free range” and “cage-free” when describing their livestock as a way to help their image. Unfortunately, these positive sounding terms are used rather loosely at times. For example, the term “free-range," seems to mean that the animals have access to the outdoors, but it is never specified how much time they truly spend outside of a cage. Therefore, much, but not all, of this terminology is more of a marketing strategy and can be misleading.


On the bright side, in California, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act SB 1249 sponsored by Senator Cathleen Galliani passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee recently. Now, this act will move on to the full Assembly, and then to the governor's office to be signed into law. If it passes, it would make it illegal for Californian manufacturers of cosmetics products to sell makeup that has been tested on animals after January 1st, 2020. You may be thinking that this is just in California, but if this becomes law, it could have a ripple effect leading to other states adopting the same policy, and in turn, forcing the cosmetic and maybe even the food industry into using cruelty-free practices.


All this to say, the worldview on the treatment of animals is evolving. The process may be slow, but from even the smallest advancements - like a new animal cracker cover - to huge wins, like a potential new law that could transform the cosmetic industry's usage of animals, each is essential to the overall victory in the battle for animal rights.



For additional reading check out these articles: 


Ellefson, Lindsey. “After More than a Century, Barnum's Lets Its Animal Crackers Roam Free with a Box Redesign.” CNN, Cable News Network, 21 Aug. 2018,


“Free-Range and Organic Meat, Eggs, and Dairy Products: Conning Consumers?” PETA,