In all of their cheddar-y glory. Photo: Melissa Hom

Recently, I was at a birthday party, drinking a glass of wine and surveying the dips. There was an edamame-and-serrano dip that seemed intriguing, and a bowl of onion dip from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, tweaked with caramelized shallots, fresh chives, and crème fraîche. These were great dips — s/o to our host! — but what really took the spread to the next level were the crayon-orange, fish-shaped cheddar crackers that were nestled among the crunchy radishes and bitter endive. Looking it over, I excitedly whispered to myself, “nature’s bounty!”

Someone who doesn’t interrogate tradition might look at the Goldfish and think, Those are not for dipping. They are merely for eating on their own. That is the mentality of a philistine. Yes, Goldfish are undeniably appealing when eaten straight — there’s a reason why are timeless and only growing in popularity. But the enlightened snacker will nevertheless look at the Goldfish and realize there is a deeper potential here: What if I took these fish for a swim in some dip? 

This, it turned out, was a great idea. That is because Goldfish — specifically the cheddar flavor — are the best cracker. (They are America’s second most popular cracker, even if they should be America’s favorite cracker.) They are crispy in exactly the right way, of course. They are also salty and cheesy but, crucially, not too cheesy. A Goldfish will not overwhelm a dip. Instead, it will complement it and enhance the inherent dip-ness.

They are also small, but this is a feature, not a bug. They are for nibbling. You can eat 20, 30 of them over the course of an evening and feel fine.

Yes, I said “evening.” You probably know Goldfish as a staple of lunchbox cuisine, but to use them as a vehicle for dip is to embrace their original purpose as a cocktail-hour snack. The rightful place of the Goldfish is, yes, everywhere, but they are an especially welcome sight among bar snacks. Martinis and Goldfish? They were made for each other, strong with the salty; the intensity of the cocktail softened by the cute little smiles on the crackers.

Apparently the Swiss inventor — rest in power — shaped them like a fish because his wife was a Pisces. This is another fact that will make you happy as you eat these crackers. The fish definitely taste better for it.

To be fair, there are incorrect dips to eat with Goldfish. Things that are filled with very big chunks will not work. Things that demand a little added sweetness will not benefit from the decidedly savory little fish crackers. But within this framework, there are infinite possibilities. Goldfish smeared with Buffalo-chicken rillettes. Goldfish dunked into spinach dip. Goldfish dredged through spicy labneh.

Here are two indisputable truths. Goldfish are great. Dips are great. Why not act as the great unifier, and bring two great things together? Would you ever deny yourself love? Do the right thing: Dip the fish.