It has been eleven years since they came back and
now they have stopped production again!!
The vicious rumor is true. I just got off the phone with NABISCO.
Nabisco has halted production of the Pilot Cracker. In 1995 they
tried doing this, but the people of Maine led the people of the
NATION as they rose up against the corporate GIANT! We must unite
once again and call 1-800-NABISCO. It worked once and it will
work again if we all call, write or email. KRAFT FOODS has underestimated
the passion folks have for this cracker. People need to know what
happened! Spread the word and ask all of your friends to call
if they care about the preservation of a New England tradition,
not to mention a darn good cracker. As I wrote in my first article
back in the 90s--If this could happen in New England where America
began it could happen anywhere. Will grits and collard greens
Don't forget 1-800-NABISCO (1-800-622-4726)
Donna Miller Damon
IN THE NEW YORK TIMES - June 11, 2008
Nabisco Crown Pilot Crackers
Donna Miller Damon broke the story about Nabisco stopping
production of Pilot Crackers and she has been busy writing articles,
compiling information and doing television and radio interviews.
She would love to get recipes and anecdotes about pilot crackers.
She is also putting together a mailing list for anyone interested
in what's happening. So please write to her:
13 Fenderson Road
Chebeague Island, Maine 04017
Or you can email me (Beverly
and I can get the information to her.
For people who live in regions where the crackers are not available
you can now order a case from Nabisco by calling 1 (800) NABISCO.
Click on the picture to get more information on ordering the
pins! Gail Miller has designed a pilot cracker pin or magnet which
will benefit the Chebeague Historical Society!
- February 5, 1997
The islanders and others were treated to a wonderful clam
chowder and celebration of the Pilot Crackers return. All the
local television stations were there as well as Tim Sample with
CBS Sunday Morning (I think it will air February 9th). It was
great - everyone got to bring home boxes of their beloved crackers
and they even gave away some beautiful replicas of the old wooden
cracker boxes. Nabisco presented a gift of $1000 to the Chebeague
- Crown Pilot back from
depths of downsizingby Tess Nacelewicz, Portland Press
- The Cracker That
Wouldn't Die (Put That in Your Chowder) by Julie Flaherty
New York Times
- Boston Herald
- Brockton Enterprise "The tack is back" Business
- Boston Herald
- San Fransisco Chronicle "Nabisco Relents, A Cracker
- St. Petersburg, Florida Times "Nabisco cracks
under pressure: Hardtack's back"
- Baltimore Sun"Small
Maine isle savors its victory" by Mary Corey
- Boston Herald January 28, 1997: People going crackers over
- Portland Press Herald,
January 25, 1997Nabisco may crack and bring back a beloved
- Forecaster, January
23, 1997For love of a cracker:
- Forecaster, January
23, 1997 Crooning for crackers (this article includes Gary
Varney's pilot cracker song)
- Portland Press
Herald - January 12, 1997
- Inter-Island News Article by Donna Miller Damon, October,
- Inter-Island News Article by Donna Miller Damon
on hard times" August 1996
- Maine Boats and Harbors, Winter, 1997
"No More Hardtack Matey"
- Yankee Magazine, January
"Save the Cracker" by Tim Clark
- DownEast Magazine, November 1996
- Boston Globe Article by Donna Damon:
"Say it isn't
so, Nabisco" September 12, 1996
- Christian Science Monitor Article by David Holmstrom
Feel Crushed by Crackers' Crumble" September 12, 1996
the Maine Coast Magazine - Current Issue
Near the end of the issue under Scuttlebutt
Pilotless, by Gainor M. Ventresco
Words written by Gary Varney sung to the tune of "My Bonnie
Lies Over the Ocean, My Bonnie Lies Over the Sea"
- January 31 - NEW ENGLAND CABLE NEWS - All day they
ran a 15 minute segment on the Pilot Cracker Story featuring
all the Chebeaguers they could get in front of a camera.
- January 24 - Nabisco announced that the big announcement
will be February 4th instead of Jan 29.
- January 23,1997 MAINE PUBLIC RADIO reported tonight
that Nabisco is considering something big. There will be an announcement
next Wednesday, 10:30 on Boston's Long Wharf - and will have
something to do with Pilot Crackers. In the broadcast they interviewed
Donna who speculated that Nabisco is going to advantage of the
opportunity to promote the pilot cracker. We can only hope she
is right! Another reason for this speculation is that Nabisco
executives were seen at a South Portland restaurant and they
said they were in Maine because of the pilot crackers!
- CBS SUNDAY MORNING a Postcard from Maine aired January
5th DONNA DAMON and many islanders were interviewed by Tim
Sample for the Sunday Morning national broadcast 9 - 10:30 EST.
The subject of the show was the ending of Nabisco Pilot Crackers.
- Maine Public Radio was on the island today to interview
people about the now famous pilot crackers. They intervied the
Ladies Aid, Edmund Doughty and Elsworth and Melba Miller. The
radio show will be broadcast Friday night, January 10th between
5 and 6.
- National Public Radio on All Things Considered - 1/17/97
(Sorry I just found out it was on).
- Channel 6 Maine Local News with Jim Crocker 1/17/97
- Channel 8 local News with Bob Dyke 1/17/97
RECIPES ON THE INTERNET (which include pilot crackers:
ALTERNATIVES TO NABISCO CROWN PILOTS:
I thought I would try to get a list of all the manufacturers
of pilot crackers so that people will know what is available.
I will start with putting a copy of an email I received:
- Dear Beverly,
Am I glad I found you on the 'net!! I tried to get a contact
on Chebeague Island from NPR but haven't heard from them yet!(see
below) (And besides now that I see Chebeague I realize how badly
I would have spelled it!) So, can I send you some crackers? Have
you seen the www site for our local crackers (see below) at
I offered in my letter to NPR to send you some samples and still
would be glad to! I have a friend in St. Paul who used to live
here that still craves the saltine crackers from Diamond Bakery
and so send them regularly to her.
Dear All Things Considered,
Tell those poor people in Maine to forget Nabisco! We in Hawaii
have always had wonderful Saloon Pilot Crackers. In fact, we
even have a choice of brands. Both Diamond Bakery of Honolulu
and Hilo Macaroni Company make very good crackers of all sorts!
If you would
please send the address of the Methodist Church on that Maine
island and I will be happy to send the ladies whom you interviewed
in your broadcast on Friday some samples.
The samples are on the way to the Chebeague Island Methodist
Church Ladies Aid
- Bent Pilot Crackers
G.H. Bent Co.,
7 Pleasant Street
Milton, MA (617) 698-5945
- Sailor Boy Pilot Bread
COMMENTS AND LETTERS:
- "I support your efforts to bring back the Pilot Crackers!
They are a New England institution that I grew up with. Chowder
won't be the same without them."
- Letter to Nabisco:
I was very disappointed to learn that Pilot Crackers were no
longer going to be manufactured. Perhaps to you it is not a big
ticket item, but to New Englanders who were raised with them
they are important. When my wife and I return to Utah from Maine
we always bring back enough boxes to last until our next visit.
In eliminating this product you are taking away a part of the
heritage of New England. I have no idea what the financial impact
of continuing to manufacture and distribute Pilot Crackers would
be. I can't imagine that for a company the size of Nabisco it
would make much difference. I think that you should seriously
consider eliminating a product that has been available for over
200 years. By discontinuing the product you run the risk of alienating
a significant number of your customers towards Nabisco and your
other products. I urge you to consider a mechanism to make sure
that Pilot crackers will again become available.
Salt Lake City, UT
- Letter to the Editor Portland Press Herald:
In re to the article in the January 12 issue of the Sunday
Telegram on Donna Miller Damon's efforts (along with those of
other Chebeague Islanders) to persuade Nabisco to bring back
the time honored Crown Pilot Cracker.
My father was a loyal consumer of Pilot crackers until they
became unavailable. A chowder wasn't a chowder without them.
I, too, believe them to be as important as the milk. In addition,
I often ate them with butter (plain and toasted) and they are
wonderful spread with melted cheddar or baked brie.
Granted the niche for this product is a small one, but I can't
believe that Nabisco sells all of its products in all areas of
the nation in equal numbers. Some parts of this country consume
more of a product than others. Tradition will always be diverse.
It is erroneous to believe that people's taste can be altered
by industry's greed for a dollar. Isn't the customer always right?
Isn't a business supposed to give the consumer what s/he wants?
What happened to time honored business practices? Have they all
followed the way the Pilot Cracker?
-Shane Pitkin Barden
Cliff Island, ME
- Letter to Nabisco:
I am a life long chowder and soup eater. The pleasure of soups
one of the great foods of the world is beyond description when
you consider the health and nutritional benefits as well as the
sensuos pleasure ofmaking and then consuming a hot bowl of soup
on a cold wintry day or a cold soup in mid-August.
So now Nabisco has pulled the Crown Pilot Cracker off the shelves!
Whatam I supposed to do with those measeily mealy little oyster
crackers that are left. Saltines don't hold a salt lick to the
majesty and pleasure of the long-lived Crown Pilot. I say LONG
LOVE THE CROWNPILOT! A response announcing the Crown's return
to the shelves of every local market is expected forthwith!
- When I was a youngster my mother often sent her sister in
calif. Pilot crackers.
For years my aunt tried to buy them out there even by the case
to no avail. Often store owners asked. What do thay do lady FLY?
- Last summer, my husband noticed that Pilot Crackers were
no longer on the shelves of the local Shop N Save. I told him
I'd find out what the problem was so I e-mailed Nabisco. They
replied - Pilot Crackers were not being made any longer. He was
devastated. Every week when we shop, he would tell me he was
going to look for Pilot Crackers and I told him he'd have to
"get over it". That is, until the article in the Press
Herald yesterday!! He now has a ray of hope!! His family has
eaten the crackers for years in many different ways. They used
them in chowders, ate them with just butter or peanut butter
or tuna. A Letarte family specialty consisted of a pilot cracker
spread with peanut butter then topped with a slice of american
cheese. Our son even brought them to school for lunch, enduring
the inevitable "What's that!!".
Please add them to the number who miss them and long for their
Judy and Rob Letarte
26 Pinecrest Ave.
Windham ME 04062
- Another email letter:
just want to lend my support to you all in your endeavor to "convince"
Nabisco to return pilot crackers. it's becoming all to apparent
that large companies have been sacrificing regional tastes (that
have always been a base of support for them) for the bottom line.
what they seem to do is try and develop an national taste/product
to make it easier for them. in the long run I hope that they
return to the basic understanding that not everyone has the same
tastes. please continue to support the company down in Mass.
(i don't remember the name) becasue, tho they may not make a
product exactly like Crown, they are respectful of regional tastes
and as such deserve our support.
My husband has been complaining about the lack of Crown Pilot
Crackers for some time now. When he finally discovered they weren't
being made any more, he was very disappointed. Congratulations
on your efforts to get them back!
- Email letter:
I just became aware of the fact that Nabisco is going to stop
making Pilot Crackers! One of my favorite all-time lunches is
a Pilot Cracker topped with a slice of American cheese, a couple
of tomato slices, and topped with partially-cooked bacon. Put
under the broiler until the bacon is done and the cheese melted.
Yum!! I don't know where the recipe idea came from; perhaps from
the Pilot Cracker box years ago. My mother used to make it and
I have done the same over the years.
I hope a public outcry will keep Pilot Crackers alive!!
- Ms Johnson, Please include me on this list. We also miss
the cracker. We are a small fishings family and community on
the northern gulf coast.
Our supply of crackers, in recent years, have come from fishermen
friends in Maine. We have written Nabisco
414 North Orange Street
Perry, FL 32347
- Email Note:
In October, my 78 year old mother invited my husband, son and
myself to her home for some fish chowder. She had gone to Shop
N Save and Shaws looking for Pilot Crackers. Well, no one told
her the crackers had been removed. She asked several store employees
where they were located and they couldn't be found. For 58 years
or so she had only used Pilot Crackers with chowder. You just
can't have anything else. It's truly a Maine staple. Not to just
the islands, but to all true Mainers. Thinking that my mother
was mistaken and just couldn't find them I went the same route
looking for them too. They were truly gone. I even drove to South
Portland and checked out the stores there thinking maybe it was
just in the Scarborough area. Not so. The crackers had disappeared
from all the shelves.
It was with great pleasure that I read the article in Yankee
Magazine. I promptly told everyone I knew to please call Nabisco
and let them know they are making a BIG, BIG mistake. I do have
enough to do in my life that I don't to take on any causes, but
this one was far too important to let go. For 51 years I have
eaten "The Pilots" with chowder.
It just not the same without them. Please bring them back.
After many, many tries I did manage to get through to Nabisco.
The customer service rep wasn't to thrilled. She did offer another
brand, but no way could you eat those for a Sunday night supper
with milk. My husband loves them with peanut butter and marshmellow.
We appreciate the efforts of all. I am going to send Nabisco
an E-mail next.
- Another Email Note:
Hi, Just want to add out two cents worth. We live in Ct. now
and always loaded up with the Pilot Crackers when we went to
Maine. (Couldn't get them in CT.) We used them with chowder,
all soups and as a meal on hot days in the summer (crackers broken
up with milk and suger or salt) . They are sorely missed and
let us be umoung those who would like to pressure, beseech, or
otherwise convince Nabisco to resume production.
Jim and Thelma McLean
24 Cheryl Ann Dr. Milford, CT 06460
- Am so glad to hear about your efforts to bring the pilot
cracker back. I was truly amazed when I learned that the cracker
had been "pulled" off production and wouldn't be available
any more. I do have a box in my closet with one or two stale
crackers in it - I'm not going to throw it away until Nabisco
decides to produce them again. I will email Nabisco regularly
til they succumb to the pressure!! I grew up in Maine and pilots
were a staple of my diet - mostly with chowder, but sometimes
in the middle of the night with peanut butter - that was my Dad'
favorite too. Many relatives are in Maine, I visit as often as
I can and my husband and I have plans to move back in a few years
- can't wait. It will be better if we knew we could get pilot
crackers when we visit. Thanks for all your efforts, keep up
the good work.
- Hurray for you--we support your efforts in bringing back
Crown Pilots!! We have missed them so much!! What is winter chowda
without pilots? What is lobsta stew without pilots? What is clam
chowda without pilots? Bottom line, what is LIFE without CROWN
Good luck, and we will be following your progress!!
- What no more CROWN PILOTS! Life will not be worth living.
My wife and I watched this segment of the CBS program and were
very touched. Though we live in the urban sprawl of Southern
California we do appreciate the genuine diversity that abounds
in so many regions of the United States.
Here's wishing you the best of luck in getting Nabisco to reconsider
Orin L. R
me email@example.com if you want to add your comments!
If you would like to email Nabisco's Consumer Information Services firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm sure they would love to hear from everyone!
NABISCO has quite a Web Page - its address is:http://www.nabisco.com/nabisco.html