The components are the basic building blocks of a wide range of other products such as Ford F-150s and flat-screen TVs.
Crackers are usually built close to the source of the natural gas, but they're rarely built at all. The last one built in the United States was in 2001.
The last time there was the possibility of such a rich investment in West Virginia was when Jay Rockefeller was thinking about moving here.
Now Shell and some other chemical companies are tossing around the idea of plopping a cracker down on Appalachian soil. And by "plopping down," I mean building giant chemical plants that would employ, precisely speaking, scads of construction workers and then lots of chemical workers.
This is making West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and other state leaders more excited than kids at Christmas.
The Legislature pushed through a generous tax package. Then, like a kid visiting Santa, Tomblin took the package on a plane to chemical company execs in Houston.
The cracker kings told Tomblin he has been a good boy and he needs to be even better.
"We may have to come back to the Legislature another time in order to satisfy some of their needs," the governor told The Associated Press.
He wouldn't say what their needs are. They're probably more elaborate than cookies and milk.
In West Virginia, all eyes are on the possibility of a cracker miracle.
There are a lot of questions about the natural gas boom too: What will happen to our roads? What will happen to our water?
Most of all, will the cracker live up to its promise? Is it really an industrial money machine?
I hope West Virginia gets the cracker. And I hope it's all it's cracked up to be.
I hope this is the land of the fourth-quarter industrial miracle.
McElhinny is the Daily Mail's managing editor. He can be reached at 304-348-1703, bra...@dailymail.com or at Twitter.com/BradMcElhinny.