MILTON — Even before Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863, New Englanders were crushing crackers as a base for turkey stuffing. This tradition can be traced back, at least in part, to the G.H. Bent Co., which still bakes and sells old-fashioned crackers in a three-story clapboard building listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
When Jim Davis and his wife, Melanie, bought the business five years ago, they inherited a line of four historic crackers and the balky equipment for making them. Along with common crackers and hardtack, Bent’s makes index card-size pilot crackers (good for crumbling into chowder), flour-and-water warming crackers (meant to be split, heated in the oven, and topped with cheese or butter), and an array of sandwiches, cupcakes, and cookies. But around Thanksgiving, the demand for the common crackers picks up. The old-fashioned rounds still go into traditional stuffings. Davis estimates that Bent’s sells 300 to 400 bags of these crackers each November.