barnum's animals crackers, cookies
The new cookie-box illustration.

In a bold move that will give courage to cartoon cookies everywhere, PETA has succeeded in a two-year campaign to get Nabisco to change the packaging of its Barnum’s Animals Crackers. Formerly, the cookies were sold in boxes that depicted various animals—often cavorting with their offspring!—in cages on a railroad car, presumably on their way to a life of nonstop torture in circuses. Now, they’re shown, as a PETA blogger writes, “free in nature instead of held captive in cages for human entertainment.”

No longer imprisoned, the animal cookies—a zebra, an elephant, a lion, a giraffe, and a gorilla—stand shoulder-to-shoulder toward the viewer, looking confident and happy. Especially the lion, who now has a zebra and a giraffe close at hand if he gets hungry and doesn’t particularly like animal crackers. PETA has realistically shown them in a kind of mystical Disney Africa, a world where every animal is in the pink of health and immune to the law of tooth and fang. There is no predation here, no starvation, no lingering death after accidentally surprising a cobra, mamba, or puff adder hanging around the water hole.

The animals look like the Fantastic Five, coming to your city to smack the heck out of anyone who is not a practicing vegan.

PETA is justly proud of its monumental achievement. You may be wondering exactly what that achievement is. This is likely because you are a troglodyte who enjoys torturing fish or hunting’s thrill of the kill. (What other reason could you have for participating in these “sports”? Exactly. None is the correct answer.) The achievement is decidedly not the triumph of absurd political correctness. It’s not about PETA doing stupid PR stunts and bowing out of the real fray of conserving habitat or raising money for groups who are. No. As PETA’s website states: “The new box for Barnum’s Animals perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates caging and chaining exotic animals for circus shows. PETA is celebrating this redesign just as we’ve celebrated the closure of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus….”

Reaction on social media was mixed. Among the comments that made actual sense were the following:

“PETA can’t save real animals…so they’ve moved on to protecting cookies” —Tim Young @TimRunsHisMouth

“The crackers are still pent up in a box. PETA feels better because the drawings of bars are now gone? Makes perfect, logical sense (if you are insane to begin with).” —Rick @rickytwaslh

“Nothing is safe from the watchful eye of the politically correct.” —Linda A. @LindaCalArm

“I still mourn when I see gummie worms and bears confined in plastic bags hanging on a retail hook.” —Jason Wicklund @JBWicklund