Indeed, baseball and Cracker Jacks are also very synonymous!
I remember how much I enjoyed a box of Cracker Jacks when I was a kid- it was a real treat......couldn't wait to see what prize was waiting for me inside that box! (Even though I remember it just being rings, tattoos, stickers, etc.! Hey- it's all good!) What kinds of prizes do you remember?
Cracker Jacks have been around since 1893, which makes them 121 years old?!!
In 1872, two German immigrants by the name of Frederick William Rueckheim and his brother Louis, came to Chicago to help clean up after the infamous fire of 1871, (which leveled the entire central part of Chicago, and killed 300+ people.) They also formed a small candy and popcorn stand/business called "F.W. Rueckheim & Bros." He and his brother Louis, had done some experimentation, and developed what is now known as Cracker Jacks. They decided to have it mass produced, and it made it's debut in 1893 at the World's Fair in Chicago. It was originally just called "Candied Popcorn & Peanuts", (as it is simply a combination of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses.) There is some debate as to how this product was named, but in the late 1800's, "crackerjack" was a slang term for "something pleasing and excellent", which is why it is believed that Rueckheim named it that!
The famous logo of "Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo" first appeared on boxes in 1918, and was an officially registered trademark in 1919. The boy and his dog were characterized by F.W. Rueckheim's actual grandson Robert, and his dog. As a brilliant marketing strategy, the company began adding "a prize in every box" in 1922, as well as renamed the business the "Cracker Jack Co." The prizes in Cracker Jacks have been highly collectible over the years! In fact, it is noted that the most valued prizes were 2 sets of baseball cards, (that together), were valued at over a whopping $125,000!!
During WWII, the Cracker Jack Co. supplied field rations for the allied armed forces and received 3 awards in recognition by the Army and Navy.
In 1955, the company began advertising on TV- airing it's first ever commercials on CBS.
In 1964, Borden, Inc. purchases the Chicago based company, and in 1997 Frito- Lay Co., (owned by PepsiCo), purchases the brand "Cracker Jacks" from Borden.
Last year, Frito-Lay released it's bold and new "updated" line of this historic treat with it's new products called "Cracker Jack'D". Sadly, it was at the same time that Frito-Lay decided to do away with the actual prizes in the nostalgic Cracker Jack boxes, and include a digital "code" instead- which unlocks games on android apps! (Apparently they felt that things needed to be updated, and that the consensus was that kids of today thought the prizes were "lame"!) Some things shouldn't be messed with, (in my opinion!) They have also revamped the packaging of the product- no more box!!!! (Which is why I've had a hard time finding it- it is now packaged in your typical chip bag!)
Anyhow, even if there's no more real prize in the box (bag), I'm still a fan of that old-fashioned, sweet and crunchy popcorn that I share with my own children now!
I will leave you with another fun, and nostalgic commercial for the one and only: Cracker Jacks!