Cheese Crackers & Existential Horror

H. P. Lovecraft was a fiction writer in the early 20th century. He’s known for his weird tales. Many of them were published by a magazine literally titled Weird Tales. I’m fond of his stories for lots of reasons.

Tucked into one of his stories — The Shadow Over Innsmouth — is a scene where the protagonist stops at a grocery store. The store is part of a larger chain called First National. That was a real-world grocery chain founded in 1853. The chain had been doing business in H.P. Lovecraft’s part of the world for 78 years when the story was written.

The store visit in this story makes an amusing statement about human nature. The protagonist, despite ominous warning signs, is driven by curiosity to visit to this strange town. Once there, what is the first thing he does? Head into a familiar chain business.

It’s kind of like a modern American traveller crossing an ocean to see exotic things, and then walking into a Starbucks. It’s funny that, nearly a century after this story was written, folks are still going to exotic places to do familiar things.

Anyway, that bit of social commentary is not why I’m writing this blog post. While in this store, the protagonist buys “cheese crackers and ginger wafers.” Those words are not capitalized, but they sound remarkably specific to me.

I wonder if there was a First National near H. P. Lovecraft, and if he was in the habit of buying cheese crackers and ginger wafers there. If so, then it pleases me to think that the creation of some the most iconic monstrosities of fiction, including the famous Cthulhu, was powered by cheese crackers and ginger wafers.






Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: