The first cracker was made in 1792 by John Pearson. He was looking to make a type of biscuit that would last longer than traditional sailor’s biscuits without spoiling. He eventually mixed just flour and water, baked it, and called his invention 'Pearson’s Pilot Bread'. This later became known as hardtack or sea biscuit and was popular among sailors due to its long shelf life without spoiling.
The name cracker came to be when Josiah Bent accidentally burned a
batch of what we now call crackers. As they burned, they made a
crackling noise, which inspired the name. He invented soda
crackers, which were precursors to saltine crackers we enjoy. Some
folks still call saltines soda crackers. In 1810 Bent’s cracker
business was acquired by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco).
Crackers have holes for a reason, because the holes allow steam to
escape during cooking. This keeps the crackers flat and the holes
also help crisp the crackers. If the holes are too close together,
the cracker will become extra dry and hard, due to too much steam
escaping. If the holes are too far apart, parts of the cracker will
rise a bit forming little bubbles on the surface of the cracker,
which is undesirable in most types of crackers, except Cheez Its.
There are hundreds of varieties of crackers now and sales are over
$10 Billion a year.