Today, Cracker Barrel is trending on Twitter, and it’s not because of its food. A tweet has gone viral, prompting many on the site to question what the name Cracker Barrel actually means, and if the name and logo itself are actually racist.
The tweet in question comes from @DomoDaDonn, who looks to have posted a photo captured from Facebook. The photo says Cracker Barrel received its name because cracker was a term for a whip and “thats why blacks called whites crackers.” This post also claims that a cracker barrel was the barrel at the country store which held the whips for sale. The final point that the company is racist comes from the logo, showing what is claimed to be a whip connecting the “K” in Cracker and the first “R” in Barrel.
In fact, the term “cracker-barrel” used to describe the character of a country store. It also described an actual barrel in these country stores, which sold actual crackers, around which customers would have conversations. These barrels would be full of soda crackers that were on sale at the store. The logo actually shows a man sitting next to what is assumed to be a cracker barrel, and the restaurants themselves actually include such barrels, which usually hold items in the store or on which checkerboards sit. The “whip” in the logo seems to just be nothing more than a design choice, although the logo used to not include this connection between letters, but instead, featured a long “K.”
This isn’t the first time Cracker Barrel has been called out for possibly racist practices. While this explanation of the name and the logo seems to be a stretch, the company has been the center of several discrimination lawsuits. In 2004, an investigation found that the restaurant was segregating customers, and that there were examples that white servers were refusing to serve black customers. Cracker Barrel was required to introduce nondiscrimination practices and equal opportunity training. In recent years, it seems as though the business has tried to boost their diversity, and have even started displaying a sign in their stores stating that the restaurant does not discriminate.
Cracker Barrel has also been questioned about its LGBT policies in the past. In the early 90s, the company sent out a memo saying that employees could be dismissed if they did not show “normal heterosexual values.” Since then, the company’s corporate management has called this a mistake, but it wasn’t until 2002 that the company’s non-discrimination policy included sexual orientation. In the Human Rights Campaign’s 2008 Corporate Equality Index, they found that the controversial restaurant received the lowest score of any restaurant for their LGBT workplace equality.
In recent years, Cracker Barrel stopped selling Duck Dynasty products after the show’s star Phil Robertson made negative comments comparing homosexuality to terrorism and bestiality, while the restaurant also refused Grayson Fitts, a Tennessee cop and pastor at All Scripture Baptist Church, to hold an event at one of their restaurants after he called for the execution of LGBTQ people.
Cracker Barrel clearly has a spotty past when it comes to discriminating on the basis of race and sexual orientation. While there are plenty of reasons to call out the company for its past actions, it seems as though this recent trending item on Twitter doesn’t seem to have the right facts in its corner.