In the spring of 2013, brothers Adam and Ben Forgash opened what Brooklyn magazine called “New York’s Only Perfect Bar.” Debatable for sure, but Dynaco is right up there. The dark, rustic, cozy spot has cool touches like a 25-foot bar, benches in the back carved out of an upstate pine tree, a floor-to-ceiling back wall constructed out of 1970s-era cabinet speakers, stained glass windows, and a working fireplace. What Dynaco doesn’t have is much in the way of food. In fact, there’s only one bar snack.
“Originally, my brother and I wanted to serve something from our childhood, crocks of cheese spread and Ritz crackers that they served at our grandfather’s New Jersey country club, but we figured the Board of Health would nail us,” says Ben. “We figured out the next best thing. Patrons get so excited and can’t believe there’s an endless supply of Goldfish crackers.”
Yes, the house munchie at one of Bed-Stuy’s coolest watering holes is the same food being handed out to hungry school kids across the country since way before your childhood, but Dynaco is hardly unique. The once humble Goldfish has taken over the world. Available in 45 countries–in the U.K. they’re called Finz!–the little orange crackers have even been in orbit, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1988.
“A lot of legacy brands from the 1970s-80s have really slagged, but not that’s true of Goldfish, which have been killing it for years with double-digit growth,” says Josh Sosland, editor of Milling & Baking News, and president of the family-named publishing company founded in 1922. “It’s gone from a niche product, to the second most-popular cracker brand in the United States. Goldfish has been the standout year after year.”
In the last five years, sales are up 17.6% to the tune of $884 million dollars, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. The crackers total roughly 40% of Pepperidge Farm sales, even though the varieties make up less than a third of the company’s products overall (and the brand survived a voluntary precautionary recall due to a salmonella scare back in July). In layman’s terms, we Americans annually devour more than 150 billion of these suckers, nearly double our intake in the mid-2000s.
“There’s nothing else like Goldfish, we have carved out a spot in American culture. There’s something about the shape, the smile, and the wholesomeness of the product,” says Carlos Abrams-Rivera, president of Campbell Snacks. “Can we improve on it? Probably not. Can we expand on it? That’s our job, to make connections with parents, to continue building trust. Our sweet spot is kids six to 10 years old. They age out quick, so our challenge is to keep the brand fresh and relevant.”