OK, time for rest of the story, so to speak.
According to wikipedia and other sources:
Animal biscuit crackers were made and distributed under the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) banner. In 1902, animal crackers officially became known as "Barnum's Animals" and evoked the familiar circus theme of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Later in 1902, the now-familiar box was designed for the Christmas season with the innovative idea of attaching a string to hang from the Christmas tree.
Up until that time, crackers were generally only sold in bulk (the proverbial "cracker barrel") or in large tins. These small cartons, which retailed for five cents at the time of their release, were a big hit and are still sold today.
In 1948, the company changed the product name to its current designation of "Barnum's Animals Crackers". Later, in 1958, production methods changed to improve the crackers' visual details. Until then animal shapes were stamped out of a dough sheet by a cutter. This produced outlines with little sophistication. By installing rotary dies, bakers can actually engrave details onto each cracker, creating a more intricate design. The rotary dies are still used today.
Barnum's Animals Crackers are all produced in the Fair Lawn, New Jersey Bakery by Nabisco Brands. More than 40 million packages of Barnum's Animals Crackers are sold each year, both in the United States and exported to 17 countries worldwide. The crackers are baked in a 300-foot long traveling band oven. They are in the oven for about four minutes and are baked at the rate of 12,000 per minute. Fifteen thousand cartons and 300,000 crackers are produced in a single shift, using some thirty miles of string on the packages
. This runs to nearly 8,000 miles (13,000 km) of string a year. Those bright circus boxes are produced in three colors - red, blue and yellow - with different variety of animals on each.
Nabisco makes Barnum's Animals Crackers, with the distinctive package art of a circus cage on wheels and full of animals. "Barnum" refers to the famous showman and circus entrepreneur P. T. Barnum, but Nabisco does not pay a licensing fee to Barnum and Bailey Circus. The product actually says "Barnum's Animals", subtitled "Crackers". At one time, the imprinted "wheels" bent around the bottom of the box and the box's bottom were perforated to allow the wheels to be opened up straight and thus stand the box on its "wheels".
Now the sad news. I have not been able to find any of these boxes that still have the string on them. The Wikipedia article may be several years old. It looks like the newest owner of Nabisco may have stopped producing them, and have a cardboard handle on the box now.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to see if you can still find any of these Nabisco boxes with the string in your travels.
I guess this is like the twinkie thing awhile back. I didn't want one, until I couldn't get one....and I also want to hang it on the Christmas tree.
Anyhow, I thought the string thing was kind of humorous, and is a piece of Americana. Hope you found it interesting too, and is one of those things you thought you knew, but actually didn't.