North Carolina-Nabs-February 16


North Carolina People, Places, and Things-February 16

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.

I grew up in Northern New Jersey not too far from New York City. Breakfast for me as kid consisted of usually cereal, oatmeal, English muffin, and juice. Sunday’s might see eggs and bacon but that was my definition of breakfast when I went off to college.

I remember my first week at East Carolina University running a little late for class and heading to the snack bar alongside of Wright Auditorium and across from the entrance to the Rawl Building with a classmate to grab breakfast.

(l-r) Rawl and Wright Auditorium. You can make out Rawl to far right of Wright. Snack bar back in the 1970’s was there-present day location of Dowdy Bookstore.


For the first time in my life I heard the term “Nabs”. For many in rural eastern North Carolina “nabs” was a perfectly suitable breakfast item. My friend ordered a coke and a pack of nabs. I was shocked about two things a soda for breakfast and a pack of 6 crackers called “nabs”.


I don’t know why but this morning I thought about Lance Toast Chee Crackers and how did they get called Nabs. Lance Crackers are made in North Carolina. The company was started in 1913. The Toastchee is a brand of crackers that Lance produces. Lance Incorporated is currently headquartered at the Ballantyne Industrial Park in Charlotte, NC  and is a billion dollar publicly traded company.

Here is what I found out about the name “Nabs”.

The term has its origins back to 1924 when the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) introduced a snack, put in a 5-cent sealed packet called “Peanut Sandwich Packet”. They soon added a second, “Sorbetto Sandwich Packet”. These packets allowed salesmen to sell to soda fountains, road stands, milk bars, lunch rooms, news stands etc. Sales increased and in 1928 the company adopted and started to use the name NAB, which immediately won the approval of the public. This term caught on and is still widely used today. In 1935 Lance introduced the Toastchee and it grew in popularity.

Later on in my freshman year I became hooked on a Lance Cracker product called Nekot cookies. I thought all products from Lance could be called “Nabs” but my North Carolina friends quickly informed me that only Toast Chee were “Nabs”. I had only been at East Carolina for a week and my immersion into Southern Culture had begun.


not nabs



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