The history of Nabisco starts in 1792, when Pearson & Sons Bakery opened in Massachusetts to make “pilot bread,” a tough and durable biscuit to sustain sailors on long journeys. Then, in 1801, the Josiah Bent Bakery baked their first biscuit other than pilot bread. They were called crackers because of the sound they made when someone bit into them. In 1889, believing he could improve quality and efficiency through combination, William Moore united Pearson, Bent and six other eastern bakeries into the New York Biscuit Company. In 1890, for the same reason, Adolphus Green formed the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company, combining approximately 40 midwestern bakeries. In 1898, Moore and Green merged their two companies, along with the United States Baking Company, to form the National Biscuit Company, a formidable collection of 114 bakeries. Adolphus Green was president of this new national company.
Green was convinced his new company needed a big idea to gain the public’s attention. He got it when the company quickly developed a cracker with a new shape that was lighter and flakier than anything else being made at that time. Green considered many names for the product and decided on UNEEDA biscuit. However, the quality and freshness of the new UNEEDA biscuit wouldn’t mean much if the product didn’t arrive for customers that way. The previous method of bulk sales would no longer do the job. National Biscuit Company needed a major step forward in packaging and created it with the Inner-Seal package, an ingenious system of inter-folded layers of wax paper and cardboard. It was the first of many innovations in biscuit packaging.
Over the next several decades National Biscuit Company, often referred to by the abbreviation N.B.C., grew by acquiring companies such as the F.H. Bennett Company, maker of MILK-BONE Pet Products, and the Shredded Wheat Company, maker of TRISCUIT Wafers and SHREDDED WHEAT Cereal. During this time, the company was also busy developing numerous cookies and crackers, many of which continue to be family favorites in the 21st century, such as OREO Cookies, RITZ Crackers, and HONEY MAID Graham Crackers. National Biscuit Company also expanded outside the United States with the acquisition of Christie Brown & Company in Canada.
The name Nabisco first appeared on a new sugar wafer product in 1901, but the corporate name did not change until 1971. In 1981 Nabisco merged with Standard Brands, maker of PLANTERS Nuts, LIFESAVERS Candies and other successful businesses. About four years later, Nabisco Brands merged with R.J. Reynolds and added GREY POUPON and A.1. brands to its portfolio. Philip Morris Companies, Inc. acquired Nabisco in December of 2000 and merged it with Kraft Foods, Inc.