Stacey Barchenger, FLORIDA TODAY
Patti Burke eats two or three pounds of Goldfish crackers in a week, one by one, looking for the saltiest of the snacks. But only once has she found a sign from God on a little orange cracker.
"When I picked this one up, I knew he was special," the Melbourne woman said of her Holy Week discovery. "He had a cross on him, and he had a crown circle up by his head. Something I've never seen before out of all the Goldfish I've eaten."
Burke couldn't believe it on Easter Sunday, when her pastor, D. Scott Worth, began talking about fish as a symbol of Christianity in front of the congregation of Presbyterian Church of the Good Shepherd in Melbourne. The reason the fish became a symbol is unknown, though it could be the story of Jonah and the whale or Jesus feeding the 5,000 with loaves and fish, he said.
"Maybe it's because we are people that buy into the 'big fish' story of Jesus' resurrection," he remembered suggesting in his Sunday sermon. "...Big fish story from the standpoint of it's hard to follow ... Jesus' closest disciples all didn't believe it at first, because it's so fantastic and life changing."
Whatever the Biblical roots of a fish's role in Christianity, Burke is embracing her find.
"I believe that it's a sign, a sign from God, that ... he is still in our life every day and he wants to show that to his people," Burke said of the baked cheddar cracker. "And it's something that happened right here at Easter.
"After talking with Pastor Scott I know that what all the cross means. It's eternal life with the circle around the cross."
What does Worth think the oddly imprinted cracker means?
"It was very interesting that God put that on my heart to speak about that, and Patti found her Goldfish with the sign of the cross on it.
"I think it's a sign. I think it points to, I would hesitate to call it a miracle, but I think it points to the miracle, which is Jesus Christ defeated death. And that's what Easter is all about."
Burke hasn't yet decided what to do with the cracker, so she carries it in an earring box padded by gauze. She tried to find out how the "the snack that smiles back" - which is normally only printed with a smile - ended up with the cross and two circles. At first, she thought she'd won a special promotion.
"I called Pepperidge Farm and said, 'Hey, do you have some special promotion going on, I think I've got the lucky fish,'" she said. "They called me back and said there's no way this could have been printed like that in the factory. ... They said it sounds like something miraculous happened and we don't know how it happened."
Burke even tried to send the company pictures of the cracker, but said when she got the photos developed at Walgreen's, none of the pictures turned out.
"I talked to my mom," Burke said. "She said maybe it's an angel."