Several people posted comments to my blog post about the low quality of Cracker Barrel rocking chairs. One lady said she wished that she had read my blog before buying the chairs, another said "I agree 100%!". A third reader asked if I can recommend another chair. Well, my favorite high quality rocking chair so far (I'm still looking as always!) is the Independence Rocker, which is the photograph I used in the masthead of this site (click on the name for a link to the chair itself on the Decor Americana site). I also appreciate the fact that they have volume pricing, so that if you buy two chairs, you pay a lower price per chair, and for four chairs, a lower price still. And yes, they cost more than Cracker Barrel! But I imagine that's because they are actually weatherproof and well built, which is my whole complaint about the Cracker Barrel ones, which just don't hold up, and frankly are not comfortable compared with many other rockers. I took some pictures of the incredibly flat seats and backs of Cracker Barrel rockers, and I will post those when I find them. Any rocker is comfortable, but the difference between "any rocking chair" and truly great one IS A PLEASURE!!
Everyone knows about Cracker Barrel and their homestyle food and "country store" concept. Who wouldn't be charmed by these warm refuges from the interstate highway, and especially by the welcoming front porch lined with rocking chairs? Cracker Barrel sells a huge number of rocking chairs - they may be the largest retailer of rocking chairs in the United States! A lot of people fall in love with a Cracker Barrel rocking chair and buy one then and there for their own porch at home.
Trouble is, they're not very well made rocking chairs, and they're not comfortable compared with many other rockers. Here's why:
1. Seats are not contoured. The woven seat of a Cracker Barrel rocking chair is totally flat. Your butt is not. They make them this way to save money, but if you could set two chairs next to each other and one had a contoured seat, you would never choose this chair.
2. Backs are not contoured. Same issue. Viewed from the top they are a straight as a board (I'm looking for some photos I took of these and will post them asap). A rocker can either cradle you, or it can just let you sit flat on it. Cradling is better!
3. Back posts are set at an angle but are totally straight. I've explained this in previous posts, but this is a very common way of designing a rocker that can be sold cheaply. The post has to be set at an angle - otherwise it won't lean back at an angle and even look like a rocker - but what separates the good from the great is a elbow-cut back post, which provides far more recline and takes the weight off your back as you sit in it. Also, an elbow-cut back post makes for a far stronger and longer-lived chair, because the lower part of the post is straight and therefore all the forces are equalized as the chair rocks. The way this (and most other inexpensive rockers) is made, the back post pulls away from the front every time the chair rocks, gradually weakening the chair over time.
4. The chair is not weatherproof or even weather resistant. These chairs are sold as porch rockers, but they are made of non-weatherproof woods, and therefore begin to rot and degrade as soon as you put them on your porch. In fact, if Cracker Barrel didn't sell so many rockers, they would rot right there on the restaurant porch. As it is, the rockers are sold within a few days and endd up rotting on the customer's porch instead.
5. The chair is lightweight. Put a Cracker Barrel chair on your front porch and you will know when the windd starts to blow, because your rockers will blow all over the porch. The wind causes them to rock on their own, and they "shuffle" around as the wind continues to blow. They end up scuffing your walls and each other.
6. The chair is not strong. Especially after a few months outdoors, they get rather brittle, especially in the joints where water soaks in and causes the wood to rot. I have seen posts rot, seat slats break, and arms break - arms usually break at the joint with the back post, altthough they sometimes break at the front post.
Overall, Cracker Barrel chairs are popular because they are visible, widely available, and are very well retailed, with the ambience and romance of the front porch of the country store. Compared with lots of quality rocking chairs, they seem to be a good deal, but considering their overall quality and comfort, I would stay away from them if you plan to sit in them or have your guests do so!
Holden loves rocking chairs and loves writing about them almost as much.