Uneeda Biscuit made the trouble...

"Why it's the Uneeda Biscuit made the trouble.

Uneeda, Uneeda, put the crackers in the package, in the package,

The Uneeda Biscuit in an airtight, sanitary package, made the cracker barrel obsolete, obsolete."

-Meredith Wilson and Jerry Herman, The Music Man

In the minds of some, fresh crisp crackers were achieved at the expense of community. As early Uneeda ads implied, the traditional soda cracker was crumbled and damp, of uncertain age and sanitation, shoveled out of a communal cracker barrel by a grocer who quite possibly gave short weight. But the cracker barrel was as much the social center of a small town store as the potbellied stove. Its decline as a social institution represented a weakening of the ties that bound.

This turn-of-the-last-century testimonial to the uncrumbed soda cracker can be found at 426 Broadway in Schenectady. Here traffic hurtling through the light at Veeder Avenue gives the feel of a highway approach ramp. Today vacant lots are as numerous as buildings, and even the storefronts with upstairs tenants have empty display windows. But the Uneeda sign is a reminder that this was once a community.

When the white paint on the letters that spell "The Perfect Soda Cracker" was fresh, Broadway was known as South Centre Street. The neighboring blocks had once been an Irish neighborhood with a high proportion of immigrants. When the Uneeda sign was painted early in the twentieth century, the area had become heavily populated by people born in the United States, most of whom worked at the GE plant. But in another generation, the neighborhood had been transformed again.