Much as the Filipino palate is said to favor strong, in-your-face flavors, there is a special place in our stomachs for plain crackers, a.k.a. soda or saltine crackers (given the physical similarities, anyway—note that most local crackers do not explicitly label themselves as such). These flat, dry baked goods decidedly rank on the relatively bland side, lending them a more “wholesome” image compared to other junk-y treats, and a special versatility as a snack on its own or as a base for piling on different toppings or fillings. Cheap, portable, and available everywhere from sari-sari stores to higher-end supermarkets, it’s no surprise they’re loved by Filipinos of all ages. But not all crackers are created equal. How do the local brands compare?
This relatively obscure brand gives you thin pieces that give a decent crunch, but are on the delicate end of the spectrum and are relatively easy to crunch on. It’s rather salty, with a buttery note toward the end that can feel artificial but somehow grew on our tastebuds anyway.
La Pacita’s version boasts a golden yellow hue. It’s even thinner than Cracker Time’s, but is firm and solid. It’s thus great for topping with more liquid spreads and makes for an impactful crunch. Richer and more biscuit-like, these crackers lean more toward being sweet rather than salty, with an even stronger “butter”-y note that strikes us as fake but isn’t unpleasant.
Magic Flakes is snack brand Jack n’ Jill’s contender to the cracker category, boasting of having four crackers per individual pack (as opposed to just three in some of the other brands). They’re lean and dry, with a slight airiness to their body and just the right amount of crunch. Though barely salty, they’re far from bland, with a yeastiness that builds up gradually and reveals itself toward the end.
Though you also get four pieces per individual pack of Rebisco’s, this brand is known for having larger crackers (which, perhaps to aid in making look bigger, they’ve pre-divided into 9’s). They’re also lean and dry, though its thinner body lends it the illusion of being crisper and sturdier than Magic Flakes. The flavor is mostly similar to Skyflakes’, just a touch saltier, making it enjoyable whether by itself or as a base for topping with other ingredients.
Probably the most popular cracker brand in the country, Skyflakes gives you relatively thicker crackers each divided into three sections. It has the quintessentially cardboard-y consistency of saltines that’s airy, dry, and lean; it’s most comparable to Magic Flakes, but slightly crisper. As bland as it is, it oddly manages to taste comforting with its starchy, faintly-yeasty flavor profile boosted just a tad with mild saltiness.
Sunflower is better known for the cream-filled versions of their crackers, but these plain variants hold their own too. It has a distinctly more delicate consistency that’s just barely crisp, but easy to crumble and somehow less filling than the other brands (psychologically, at least; not that this is a bad thing). Flavor-wise, it has a richer, somewhat “fried”-tasting character to it, possibly from having a higher fat content, that gives it a more decadent feel amidst its mid-level saltiness and yeastiness.
The Verdict: Rebisco
Skyflakes loyalists, hear us out. Though we recognize the said brand’s comfortingly mellow-flavored, dry-crunchy appeal, we feel that Rebisco’s slightly saltier-tasting, thinner-but-sturdier character puts it at an advantage both for eating plain and for use in recipes and other applications. Skyflakes nonetheless maintains a special place in our hearts. On the other end of the spectrum, Sunflower stands out with its richer-tasting, more delicate contenders; and when you’re looking for the best of both bland and buttery worlds, go for Cracker Time.