There are some New England traditions that carry on from generation to generation. In the case of one tradition, I didn't even realize its importance until I researched the reason for its disappearance.
One thing that my mother always stocked in her cupboards was Pilot Crackers. These were plain but hearty crackers in a rectangular shape. Nearly as large as a piece of bread but not so wide. Although they were widely used in chowder, my mother often ate them with butter and jam with her tea. As kids, we often used them as a substitute for bread in making a sandwich and they are the perfect complement for some cheeses.
Back in 1995, the manufacturer of these crackers decided to stop making them. To our delight, there was a hue and cry went up from the many lovers of the crackers that we considered a staple. Nabisco, who made the crackers, relented and put them back on the shelves. Why don't companies ever do market research surveys before making these decisions?
Sadly, I bought my last box of Pilot Crackers some time last year. Yes, the company has again downsized their product line and decided to take them off the market. I hope that fans of this favorite are able to convince them to change their minds once again. I know there is still a large contingent of New Englanders for whom chowder is not chowder without a Pilot Cracker. And you know how seriously we take our chowder...