Hundreds of social media users were fooled this week by false claims that Cracker Barrel’s logo — which features an old farmer leaning on a large wooden barrel — was actually a duplicitous reference to American slavery.
The myth went viral in recent days with numerous voices decrying the Southern restaurant chain’s rustic brand, saying it depicts a slaveholder’s whip and the barrel the tools were stored in.
“Cracker was a slang term for whip,” reads one Facebook post that features an image of the company’s name and logo, according to Politifact. “Thats why blacks called whites crackers, from the crack of the whip. A cracker barrel is a barrel that held the whips for sale at the country store. You see the whip going from the R to the K? Racism in your face!!”
The story, however, isn’t true, according to Politifact.
Social media companies have also started flagging the posts in a continuing crackdown on misinformation.
Cracker Barrel denied that a whip had ever been depicted in its logo.
“The part of the logo being referenced in social media posts is a flourish, which is used in the calligraphy of the logos of many brands,” the company said in a statement to Politifact. “Cracker Barrel rejects racism and discrimination in any form.”
Many people still latched onto the false notion and based their feelings on previous experiences at the restaurant, reports said.
“It makes sense though,” one person said. “I feel like anytime I walked in there I was expecting to get sold out of the gift shop ... just slave vibes all around.”
Another voice called Cracker Barrel the “Jim Crow-themed Applebees,” according to reports.
An article by Southern Living published in 2018 explained the Cracker Barrel name as a historical reference to general stores around the country that sold the barrels used to store soda crackers in the days before plastics and machine packaging.
Store patrons were known for sitting around the barrels like water coolers and catching up on the day’s news and gossip. A wiseacre who hung around the store all day came to be called the “cracker barrel man.”
Merriam-Webster also defines “cracker-barrel” as “suggestive of the friendly homespun character of a country store.”
Politifact cited several other historical references to general store-era cracker barrels.
The term “cracker” has been used in the past as a racial slur, primarily in the South.
Cracker Barrel, which first opened in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1969, faced a civil rights investigation in 2004 for alleged racial discrimination involving Black employees and customers.