Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Surprise is Inside

by Connie Cortright

What snack do you give to your child to eat that your grandparents also ate? Near the top of the list would be Cracker Jacks. This sweet treat made from caramel covered popcorn and peanuts has been around since the late nineteenth century.

It became popular when it was sold at Chicago's World's Fair in 1893, so was around well before the 20s and 30s. It was manufactured by The F.W. Rueckheim & Brothers Company that year. In fact, the prize in the boxes have been around since 1912. Wonder what our grandparents received as a prize in their boxes?

The snack became a different crowd-pleaser when Jack Norworth wrote the lyrics of the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in 1908. In case you're not familiar with this song, a couple lines from the chorus are as follows:
Take me out to the ballgame,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.
I don't care if I ever get back.
After that time Cracker Jack was a staple at baseball games. I guess baseball and Crack Jacks naturally go together.

The face on the Cracker Jack box that we recognize has been on the box since 1918 when the owners of the company picked their nephew Robert Rueckheim for a model. Robert died shortly after the model was drawn at the age of eight, so they used the sailor image as a tribute to Robert. They named the character "Sailor Jack". Bingo, the dog that appears by his side, is said to have been a stray dog named Russell that the owner Henry Eckstein adopted in 1917.

Not too much has changed since that time for these goodies. Kids and adults still enjoy the same great popcorn and peanuts in their boxes today. When was the last time you had a box of Cracker Jack? Now I'm hungry for some.

Information taken from Snack Food History

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