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10 Things You Didn't Know About Cracker Jack Gallery

10 Things You Didn't Know About Cracker Jack Gallery

‘Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never get back’

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Cracker Jack has a history as rich as its caramel coating and as nutty as its peanuts. The possible first American junk food was the dream of an immigrant that went from the World’s Fair to ball games across the United States in a matter of years.

Adults enjoyed the snack for its sweetness and crunch, children loved it for the cool prizes and baseball cards inside those iconic Cracker Jack boxes. Today, although the company has gone through a few hands and received some modern updates (Cracker Jack’D, anyone?), it still remains a ballpark classic and a snack aisle staple.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Cracker Jack

itemmaster

Cracker Jack has a history as rich as its caramel coating and as nutty as its peanuts. Today, although the company has gone through a few hands and received some modern updates (Cracker Jack’D, anyone?), it still remains a ballpark classic and a snack aisle staple.

Cracker Jack Began Out of a Street Cart in Chicago

In 1873 German immigrant Frederick Ruechkeim, his brother Louis, and his partner William Brinkmeyer sold their unique mixture of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue, now called Federal Street. Legend has it that the men sold their popcorn mixture at Chicago’s first world’s fair in 1893, although there is currently no evidence to support that claim.

Cracker Jack’s Sailor Mascot Was Modeled After Founder Rueckheim’s Grandson

Sailor Jack, who first appeared in Cracker Jack advertisements in 1916, was made to appear like Rueckheim’s grandson Robert, who passed away at the age of 8 of pneumonia. Cracker Jack's mascot dog Bingo, was based on a stray dog adopted by the Rueckheim brothers’ business partner Henry Eckstein.

At the Time, ‘Crackerjack’ Was a Term Meaning ‘Excellent’ or ‘Splendid’

Legend suggests that a customer enthusiastically said “That’s crackerjack!” upon sampling the snack, and thereby gave it a name. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, the term refers to something being “excellent,” “splendid,” or “expert.”

It’s Considered to Be the First Junk Food

According to various historians, Cracker Jack was the first documented junk food. “They created a product that is commercially available nationally and salable,” food historian Andrew F. Smith told The New York Times in 2010.

Cracker Jack’s Slogan Was Trademarked in 1896

“The More You Eat The More You Want” was trademarked by Rueckheim after their product was officially named Cracker Jack.

The Song ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ Is Really What Made Cracker Jack Famous

Dreamstime.com

The lyric “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack” in the 1908 smash hit “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” really put the snack on the map as people began to associate it with America’s pastime. Funnily enough, the song’s writer, vaudeville actor Jack Norworth, had never been to a baseball game in his life but was inspired by an advertisement! To date, more than 100 versions of the song have been recorded.

It Was Purchased by Frito-Lay in 1997

The snack brand was purchased from Borden Co. by Frito-Lay in 1997 and has since seen a series of updates but has not lost any of its nostalgic charm.

Cracker Jack Prizes Now Come From an App

Gone are the tchotchkes of yesteryear — in their place are QR codes providing a “mobile digital experience.” Instead of opening your Cracker Jack to find a baseball card or a tiny top, snackers can plug their codes into an app that will bring the viewer four different baseball related experiences.

There’s an Energy Line of Cracker Jacks Called “Cracker Jack’D”

Frito Lay is trying appeal to millennials with Cracker Jack’D, which they call “Snacks With Impact.” The snack mixes come with extra protein and caffeine and are supposed to give the snacker energy. The line was discontinued but its website remains.

There Is a Holiday Cookie Flavor

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Cracker Jack’s “Holiday Sugar Cookie” flavor has seen more success than Jack’D, for its frosted and sprinkle-coated popcorn pieces that spread holiday cheer. Reviewers have called the candy-coated popcorn “all sorts of merry.” Love Cracker Jack and hoping it makes comeback in the next 10 years? These are the most popular snack foods of the last 10 decades.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


14 Classic Facts About Cracker Jack

Take a look at the snack that’s become synonymous with America’s pastime.

1. IT STARTED WAY BACK IN 1872.

That’s when a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart on Chicago’s Fourth Avenue. The venture was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Hoping to stand out from other manufacturers, the two began tinkering with Frederick’s recipe, and eventually perfected a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. After a hit showing at the 1893 World’s Fair, F.W. Rueckheim & Brother, as the company was known, was officially in business.

2. A SALESMAN COINED THE NAME.

The story goes that upon first trying the mixture, company salesman John Berg exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!”—a common phrase at the time meaning something was high in quality. Some believe Rueckheim may have come up with the name himself and sold people on the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896.

3. IT WAS A PACKAGING PIONEER.

Back in the day when most snacks came in bulk or were sold in tins, bags, or jars, Cracker Jack developed cardboard packaging that allowed it to distribute far and wide. Invented by company partner Henry Eckstein, the company’s "triple-proof packaging" was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers in the industry.

4. A VAUDEVILLE ACTOR WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” DURING A TRAIN RIDE.

In 1908, Jack Norworth, a 29-year-old entertainer who had never been to a baseball game, penned the now-iconic song while riding the old Ninth Avenue El train to midtown Manhattan, where he was performing. An advertisement for the Polo Grounds, the ball field where the New York Giants played, inspired him. The reference to Cracker Jack ("buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack") didn’t come through any deal with the snack company, but it became a godsend for sales as the song rocketed up the charts, forever linking the popcorn snack to the game of baseball.

5. BEFORE SAILOR JACK AND BINGO, THERE WERE THE CRACKER JACK BEARS.

The iconic image on Cracker Jack boxes is of the boy decked out in a sailor’s outfit and his little dog. But before those two, the company mascots were two fun-loving bears shown doing everything from fishing to playing baseball to climbing the Statue of Liberty. One postcard from 1907 depicts the bears in a tree with a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt below. “Don’t shoot, Mr. President!” one says.

6. SAILOR JACK WAS MODELED AFTER THE FOUNDER’S GRANDSON.

Young Robert Rueckheim served as the model for Sailor Jack, whose image first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8, but Sailor Jack lives on today alongside his dog, Bingo, who was said to be modeled after a stray belonging to Eckstein.

7. BOXES ORIGINALLY CONTAINED COUPONS INSTEAD OF PRIZES.

In 1910, Cracker Jack began slipping coupons into its boxes that could be collected and redeemed for watches, silverware, sewing machines, and other goods. In 1912, the company decided to do away with the coupons and focus on appealing to kids. It began putting a small prize inside each box, and sales went through the roof.

8. WHOLE BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE PRIZES.

When it comes to toys, Cracker Jack doesn’t play around. In just over a hundred years, the company has developed thousands of prizes—everything from animal figurines to tin whistles to handheld puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. With so many toys, and so many available for a limited time, a collector’s market sprang up. There’s a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, along with several books cataloguing the prizes and discussing their history.

9. CRACKER JACK BASEBALL CARDS ARE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY.

Further cementing its connection with America’s pastime, Cracker Jack offered a collectible set of baseball cards in 1914 and again in 1915. They featured such classic players as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. A mint condition Mathewson, widely considered the most valuable card in both sets, goes for as much as $40,000.

10. THE NUMBER OF PEANUTS IN EACH BOX DECLINED OVER TIME.

For years, Cracker Jack fans lamented what they saw as a decrease in the number of peanuts inside each box. The company refused to address the issue, but unofficial tests proved the fans right. In 2005, for instance, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained around six peanuts. Compare that to Cracker Jack’s early days, when boxes typically contained 25 to 30 peanuts, and its years under Borden’s ownership (1964-1997), when it promised 12 to 15 peanuts per box, and it’s clear a peanut conspiracy was afoot. In 2013, parent company Frito-Lay tried to set things right by upping the peanut count. But some fans still long for those peanut-filled days of old.

11. THE “PRIZES” ARE PRETTY LAME THESE DAYS.

Most fans agree that Cracker Jack prizes have gone downhill in recent years. Instead of figurines and temporary tattoos, the company has offered riddles, folding games and slips of paper with a web link to downloadable content. The Oatmeal is less than impressed, as is super collector Jim Davis. There’s even a Facebook community called "Put the PRIZE back in Cracker Jack."

12. THE YANKEES TRIED REPLACING CRACKER JACK AT THEIR STADIUM.

Back in May 2004, the Yankees announced they were doing away with Cracker Jack in favor of a competitor, Crunch 'N Munch. The decision, officials said, was due to Cracker Jack’s recent transition from boxes to bags, and because Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans disagreed, and they let the team know. A month later, the storied franchise reinstated the classic snack.

13. THERE’S AN ENERGY LINE CALLED CRACKER JACK’D.

When it came out a few years ago, Cracker Jack traditionalists bemoaned the amped-up offshoot, made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make nutrition advocacy groups queasy, and sales have proven less than stellar amongst those fickle Millennials. More successful are Cracker Jack’s other flavor offshoots, like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter.

14. YOU CAN MAKE THEM AT HOME.

Turns out that combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses is a snap to DIY. The Kitchn has a recipe that uses lots of butter and Spanish peanuts, while Alton Brown offers a darker, clumpier version called Slacker Jacks. The best part about making them yourself is that you don’t have to skimp on the peanuts.


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