Dog Food, The Culinary Legacy of Hardtack

Have you ever wondered about the origins of commercially produced dog food? It actually dates to about 1860 and was inspired by hardtack, that same hard flour biscuit that soldiers and sailors ate during the Civil War.

James Spratt, an Ohio man who sold lightning rods, is credited as the creator of the first commercially produced dog food. He developed Spratt’s Patent Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes after a business trip to London, where he noticed dogs at the harbor eating hardtack biscuits, likely those that had been discarded by sailors as inedible. Like Civil War soldiers who ate hardtack on campaign, British (and American) sailors ate hardtack on long ocean voyages. By the 1890s, Spratt’s dog food had become popular with high-society sportsmen and owners of show dogs in the US and England. It later inspired another inventor to create the ubiquitous bone-shaped dog biscuit that dogs know and love today. Treat yourself to the whole story here, courtesy of The New York Times.


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