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The cracker portion of the iron ration offered a bit more variety, though its taste apparently left something to be desired. Depending upon what was available from Germany ’s food service industry, the Landser could have received 300 grams of Hartkeks, Knäckebrot, Zwieback, or plain crackers. They could have been issued individually or pre-packed in paper or cardboard boxes. Again, it would have had to fit inside the A frame bag or inside the bread bag or Brotbeutel. Knäckebrot, or crisp bread, was similar to the Swedish crisp bread available at any modern deli. It came packed four to a carton, with each piece measuring 5 ⅜ inches by 4 ½ inches by ¼ inches thick. According to the taste testers, it “was somewhat darker in color than the similar American product. It was hard and brittle, with a strong rye taste.” The package contained “only 13 calories per cubic inch, while the average U.S. K Ration biscuit had almost 3 times as many calories…from a palatability standpoint, the American soldier would not have liked the whole rye taste.”RandJS wrote:How much does an individual Zwieback weigh or about how many Zwieback would be in a 250 gram hard cracker ration?
Another common substitute for fresh bread in the iron ration was Zwieback, or the common cracker (which bore no resemblance to the modern baby teething Zwieback in the baby food section of your local grocery store). These were often issued loose, directly from a tin box or wooden crate, and measured 2 ⅛ inches by 2 ⅛ inches by 3/16 inches thick. According to the taste testers, “the crackers were a very hard, dense hardtack made from a very low-grade flour…they were made from flour, salt and water and had unlimited keeping qualities.” No doubt these were a direct descendant of the same kind of hardtack used by the Kaiser’s armies during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War! There were also sweetened round crackers called Duve Keks that came packaged 18 crackers (which measured 2 3/16 inches in diameter) to a heavy paper carton that weighed 100 grams net. Three cartons would constitute a full iron ration of bread, though a Landser on the move would have trouble finding a place to put it. These were manufactured by H. Bahlsen Keks factory of Hanover and “the taste and appearance were considered good.”