RyKrisp, it's time for a requiem.
The hearty cracker, born and raised in the Twin Cities, will soon be no more. ConAgra Foods has kiboshed the brand and plans to shutter its southeast Minneapolis RyKrisp factory in March, laying off about 15 people.
"After a careful evaluation of our options, ConAgra Foods has decided to exit the RyKrisp and rye cracker business and close the plant," the company said in a statement.
Boomers will remember RyKrisp; younger generations, not so much. An alternative to the omnipresent saltine, RyKrisp was a popular cracker in the 1950s through the 1970s. But volume began to decline in the 1980s.
ConAgra, a big, Omaha-based packaged foods company, picked up the brand in 2012 when it bought Ralcorp Holdings. RyKrisp had been owned by Ralcorp's corporate predecessor since the 1920s, the same decade the cracker plant opened on 6th Avenue SE.
The cracker eventually to be known as RyKrisp originated around the turn of the 20th century. Back then, it was Scandinavian flatbread sold in 9-inch rounds.
"There was a large [Scandinavian] ethnic community, and this was a staple," said John Peglow, vice president of the union that represents RyKrisp workers.
The closing wasn't a complete surprise for the plant's workers, many of whom have been making crackers for over 30 years.
"They were only doing one shift, and the plant was running maybe two weeks out of the month," said Peglow of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union. "They weren't running at capacity."
Workers made RyKrisp basically the same way for decades. The cracker oven is one of the plant's newest pieces of equipment, and it was installed in 1947, Peglow said.