In Praise of Ak-Mak
I can go for years without thinking about Ak-Mak crackers and then, all of a sudden, I'll see them on a shelf and think to myself, hey, I remember those being pretty good, I think I'll try them again. That's just what happened the other day at the local health food store, when I was looking for something to dip into the artichoke and kalamata olive hummus that had caught my eye. So I bought the box of Ak-Mak, and when I tried them again, after all these years, I said to myself, hey, these are better than I remembered. Ak-Mak crackers are the quintessence of simplicity. There's no Ak-Mak website, but everything you need to know is on the box. Ingredients: 100% "Whole of the Wheat" flour stone ground, clover honey, sesame oil, dairy butter, sesame seeds, yeast and salt. All good stuff. All natural. No chemicals, no preservatives. It tastes fresh. It tastes real. How many well distributed packaged products can you say that about? Ak-Mak crackers taste like they were baked by the family down the street, and the company is still family owned: the Soojians of Sanger, California.
I grew up on crappy crackers: Saltines, Ritz. Crappy cardboard crackers full of crap. Millions of people eat those crappy crackers. How can they eat that crap when there's Ak-Mak? The taste of Ak-Mak crackers is sublimely simple, a nuttiness born of the marriage of whole wheat and sesame, attended by a Platonic crispness. According to the box, the recipe is based on a traditional Armenian cracker bread with a 3,000-year history. The Soojians' version made its debut in 1893. I salute the Soojian family for resisting the advances of the Krafts and Nabiscos, who surely must have made overtures over the years. It's nice to know that it's still possible to find mass-produced products, like Ak-Mak and Almondina, that are good food, plain and simple.