The Graham Cracker Question

This is a bit of an odd post, but since I made a promise, it must be done. Let me explain. Some weeks ago, EmmaMaree, who is Scottish and hence not in the US, made a comment on Twitter that she was looking for a British alternative to Graham Crackers. I believe she was trying to make something based on a US recipe, and since Graham Crackers are not common fair in the British Isles, she needed an appropriate substitute. She wondered if, as someone had pointed out to her, Digestive biscuits would be suitable. Perceiving myself to be in a position to assist (I live in the US and have had Graham Crackers, and I am an ex-pat Brit, so I am also familiar with Digestives), I noted that while Digestives come somewhat close to the taste of Graham Crackers (though perhaps not quite as malty), the consistency is all wrong. Digestives are a lot more… mealy, I think. Perhaps if you were crumbling up the Digestives to make a pie crust, you could get away with it. But if Digestives are not quite the texture and taste of a Graham Cracker, what could she purchase off the shelf in Scotland that would be just like a Graham Cracker? That is the question. And this is where I am at a disadvantage, because it has been a number of years since I lived and shopped regularly in the UK. However, I promised Emma that when my brothers visit, I will have them try a Graham Cracker and give me their opinion.

So it was, one afternoon while they were here, I took a Graham Cracker and gave it to my older brother to try. I then presented him with the challenge: What UK product that you can get at a regular store (e.g., Tesco) does that taste like? He concurred with me about Digestives–the taste is reasonably close, but the texture is quite different. But aside from a maltier Digestive, he couldn’t really do better on the taste front. With regard to the consistency, he thought perhaps more the consistency of a Rich Tea biscuit, or even a Garibaldi, minus the raisins. I hadn’t considered the Garibaldi before, but I think he’s right.

So, Emma, I’m afraid that’s the best we can do. Sort of like the taste of a Digestive (perhaps maltier), but with the consistency of a Garibaldi without the raisins. Perhaps there’s someone out there who thinks they can do better than that. If so, please comment below, and help us find a substitute for the Graham Cracker for our British friends!

Oh, and while I have your attention, in case you missed my article, don’t forget to sign up for the Déjà Vu Blogfest, which is taking place on December 16. See the link for more details.

UPDATE: CLICK HERE for an update on the quest for the British Graham Cracker!

UPDATE #2: Tesco now stocks Graham Crackers! CLICK HERE to read more…

46 thoughts on “The Graham Cracker Question

  1. SusanFrancino

    That strikes me as strange that they don’t sell Graham Crackers in the UK. (Sad as well–they make great snacks.) They seemed to me like a pretty standard item, but I guess I never thought about it before…

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Having lived in the US for 19.5 years, it seems strange to me too, now. Graham Crackers are one of those ubiquitous food items… like bread and cheese. But it’s true to say that I’ve only known of them since I’ve been here.

      Reply
  2. JaimeMorrow

    I totally get this trying to find the closest substitution thing. I lived in Germany for 6 months some years ago and would you believe they didn’t sell vanilla extract anywhere?? I like to bake, so this was maddening to say the least. The closest thing they had was some weird vanilla syrup thing by Dr. Oetker (not at all the same thing). You also couldn’t buy peanut butter in a decent size. They were all super tiny. I think because Germans don’t understand peanut butter. I had to introduce people to the concept of peanut butter and jam.

    So weird that things that seem so normal and even staples are not deemed as such elsewhere in the world.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      No vanilla extract?? That is strange! Peanut butter is another North American staple we take for granted. I’m sure we had it in the UK…. stretching the memory here, but yes… I seem to recall jars of peanut butter on the shelves in stores back in England. But not Germany, hmm? That does seem odd.

      Reply
  3. MissCole

    When I lived in the US, I struggled without Cadburys. It’s SO expensive! My Mum sent me packages every couple of months to get me through 😛

    And I also had to get my head around asking for hot tea otherwise I’d receive a glass of iced tea. Ick ^^;

    On this side of the pond, I crave Animal Crackers and Chick Fil’A like crazy. What I wouldn’t do for a biscuit for breakfast!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      My brothers came with a big bag of tea bags, and lots of Cadbury’s chocolate, so I know exactly what you mean. Tetley’s do a “British Blend” brand of tea for the US market, and it’s about the best you get here. But even that doesn’t compare to the stuff you have there. You can get “Cadbury’s” chocolate here, but it’s made by Hershey, and, at least the last time I tried it, it’s not the same.

      You know what my brothers searched for in vain? A Mars bar. We have Mars products here, but they couldn’t find a Mars bar! Perhaps they have them elsewhere in the US, but not here. And Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are seasonal here–you only get them at Easter. At least in our neck of the woods.

      Think of me next time you sink your teeth into a Double Decker. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Iain

        Just a quick bit of info for you. The Mars Bar, in the USA, is called a ‘Milky Way’. Our Milky Way is a different beast entirely! 🙂

        Reply
        1. cds Post author

          US Milky Ways are not quite the same as Mars Bars. It’s been a while since I’ve had a US Milky Way, but I do recall thinking that there were some similarities, but it still wasn’t quite the same. FYI, the closest thing you get to a UK Milky Way over here is a 3 Musketeers. 🙂

          Reply
      2. Richard Boddington

        hey creme eggs are only here for about 6 weeks soon as easter is gone when they sell out ya cant get em atill next easter time just a mention about graham crackers nothing like rich tea but very close to garies without raisins correct ..

        Reply
        1. cds Post author

          We used to be able to get Cadbury’s Creme Eggs all year in the UK when I was young. Maybe times have changed? And I agree–Graham Crackers don’t taste like Rich Tea biscuits. I think garies come close to the consistency of a Graham Cracker, but still not quite.

          Thanks for your comment, Richard! 🙂

          Reply
    1. cds Post author

      They have marshmallows, but they don’t really toast well on Digestive biscuits. 🙂 I don’t ever recall making s’mores in the UK… if they do, I have no clue what they would use.

      Reply
        1. cds Post author

          Digestives don’t really give you the same consistency as a graham cracker, but using chocolate digestives with marshmallow will get you close to the s’more taste. Thanks for sharing that idea, Emma. 🙂

          Reply
  4. E.Maree

    Thanks so much for this post, Colin! Just writing up my own blog now to show off this new knowledge, and I’ve sent the other half of a quest for rich teas and garibaldis. 🙂

    I have to agree with everyone above – it completely confuses me that Graham Crackers haven’t reached the UK market when other US products (Kraft Cheesy Pasta is a household name, and — very very slowly — Herseys Kisses have started appearing on shelves) have managed to make their way here.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      You are very welcome. And hopefully the quest continues! It will now become a standard conversation point with every visitor to the US from the UK I meet… including my Mum when she next visits. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Lindsey

    Anyone thought of using malted milk biscuits, (although they do have a little cow stamped on them)? Malted milk aren’t as crumbly as digestives, but not quite as crisp as rich tea but they have a maltier flavour than digestives. I live in Spain so I totally understand the biscuits issues. We have a different version of digestives and definitely no graham crackers.

    Reply
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  7. Steph

    Malted milk biscuits! Now that’s the best suggestion, I’m going to try this and crumble in one third ginger nuts, as I think ginger nuts resemble that crunchy texture of G C. Worth a try, and fun experimenting.

    Reply
  8. Teresa

    Hi, as a US expat living in the UK I now have found what I think is the perfect substitute for graham crackers when making cheesecake. It is actually a new biscuit from Maryland cookies called SNAPJACKS and its honeycomb flavour.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Snap Jacks. Thank you, Teresa! I’ll have my family send me some so we can do a taste comparison over here. As soon as I can do that, I’ll report on the blog. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Jane

        A USA friend of mine recently FBed a picture of some s/mores treats she has made…. they look amazing and so I asked her for the recipe…. she said “graham crackers” and I said “what!!!???” – that’s how I came to this thread – I would love to know the outcome – from what you say I think Malted Milk sounds good ….. maybe a digestive, ginger nut and malted milk mix ???? let me know the out come of your tests, whilst I can make some and eat them (ALL ) I have never tried a Graham Cracker to compare to !

        Reply
        1. cds Post author

          I think the problem is coming up with something that has both the consistency of a Graham Cracker as well as the taste. They’re definitely more cracker than biscuit–but not in the Jacob’s Cream Cracker sense of a cracker. The consistency is certainly, as my brothers suggest, more like a Garibaldi than a Rich Tea or Digestive biscuit. This is why Digestives will probably do in a pinch if you’re trying to recreate a Graham Cracker pie crust, for example, where you’re crumbling the biscuit. But they’d be completely useless if you were making S’mores (which is marshmallow (usually toasted over a campfire) and chocolate sandwiched between Graham Crackers).

          You can be sure I’ll post an “update” article once I’ve had the opportunity to try these Snap Jacks, Jane. Keep an eye on the blog! 🙂

          Reply
  9. Gavin

    We got some Rocky Mountain Marshmallows in Costco Edinburgh and on the back of the packet was the recipe for s’mores. No Graham Crackers in Costco or elsewhere. Will try Rich Tea but have nothing to compare it to. Guess my Canadian Relatives will be bringing me some!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I was hoping you were about to say the packet suggested an alternative for Graham Crackers. I guess not, which seems wrong. “Here’s a recipe for something you can’t have because not all the ingredients are available in your country–never mind that you bought the marshmallows locally!” *sigh*!

      I’ve had an idea that might help with the research for this issue. I’ll post details on the blog soon. 🙂

      Reply
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  12. Kaylene

    Hello just moved to England from the US with my English husband and our 11 year old son loves going to the beach and having a BBQ but is missing s’mores. Reading this blog we will try Rich Teas but do not know what the Garibaldi biscuits are and neither does my husband. Can someone tell me where to find them? Or what I am looking for please. Graham crackers should be imported to England as I do believe mothers everywhere would embrace them for a snack! When my children would be ill I would give them to them as they were getting better. Delicious and a healthy snack too!

    Reply
    1. Colin

      Hi, Kaylene! Check out Update #2 to the article. Find a Tesco’s and you should be able to find Graham Crackers.

      Garibaldis are cracker like, but usually have raisins, so they lack the distinctive Graham Cracker taste. I’m glad Tesco’s are stocking them now because I don’t think there really is a 100% satisfactory alternative in the UK. Digestives will substitute for a Graham Cracker crust, but they won’t do for s’mores. Rich Tea might do okay, but again, not the same.

      I hope Tesco’s works out for you. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Anita Ferguson

    I have arrived here in my quest to find a substitute for the Infamous Graham Cracker. I’m currently in the UK and having now read through this thread, I’m going to throw another option into the mix!

    I’m going to try McVities Hob Nobs in the recipe I’m wanting to substitute GC’s. They’re oaty with a golden syrup taste which would suit the banana cheesecake dessert I’m dying to make!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Ooo… I miss Hobnobs! Great suggestion, and for a banana cheesecake might even be better than a Graham Cracker crust! The upshot of all this, I think, is that there are a number of biscuit options you can use in the UK to substitute GCs when making a crust. It’s when you want to make S’mores that there seems to be no real alternative for you.

      Thanks for the tip, Anita! 😀

      Reply
  14. Pat

    A friend of mine here at the office (in the U.S.) had mentioned s’mores to her pen pal in England. The English friend had no idea what graham crackers or marshmallows were. Apparently there is a marshmallow fluff in a jar but it is different in flavor and texture. I’m not a marshmallow fan, so I can’t say for sure. I did a quick online search and discovered there are numerous recipes for making graham crackers from scratch with ingredients I think are available in the U.K., . . . so maybe making your own is the way to go. Just type in “graham cracker recipe”. To let you know, my friend here at work sent her pen pal all the fixings for s’mores as a Christmas gift one year and she went absolutely crazy for s’mores . . . so I can understand the need for finding a product that fits the bill.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      When I was growing up in the UK, we had marshmallows, and while that was a while ago, I’m sure you can still get them (though I understand UK marshmallows are not quite the same as US marshmallows). Perhaps making from scratch is the way to go. I’d be interested to hear if anyone tries this and how it works out.

      Thanks, Pat! 🙂

      Reply
        1. cds Post author

          If the Belvita breakfast biscuits are the same in the UK as the ones we have here in the US, then the texture is close, but a little crispier than a Graham Cracker. If you can find a Belvita biscuit that’s honey, or even oatmeal flavoured, it might suffice for S’mores.

          Reply
  15. Naadiya

    I’ve not had graham crackers before as I’m in South Africa but from your description, I think it’s quite similar to something we have called “breakfast biscuits” by Bakers.

    Reply
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    1. cds Post author

      Unfortunately not. Golden Grahams are much sweeter and don’t have the same biscuit (in the British sense) consistency as the Graham Cracker. They’re also way too small to make S’mores! 🙂

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I love Cream Crackers, but they are nothing like a Graham Cracker, I’m afraid. Really good with cheese and/or Branston Pickle, though. 🙂

      Reply

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