Cracker Jack: 120-year-old junk food gets new flavors, ‘enhanced’ prizes

How many people have sung “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack” during the seventh inning stretch at baseball games? Now, they might have to start getting more specific. One of the world’s iconic brands is branching out.

Cracker Jack, the 120-year-old snack regarded by some historians as the first junk food, is introducing two new flavors. Not only will there be the sweet, peanut-and-molasses original, but also a Kettle Corn and a Butter Toffee flavor.

The Butter Toffee is sweet and buttery; the Kettle Corn is actually fairly mild -- nowhere near the sugar-and-salt bomb you may know from farmers market vendors.


Ironically, kettle corn much pre-dates the original Cracker Jack, dating to at least the 18th century, when it’s mentioned in some Pennsylvania Dutch diaries. Cracker Jack was introduced in 1893, sold by brothers Fritz and Louis Rueckheim at the Chicago World’s Fair. The first packaged product was introduced in 1896.

The packaging for the new Cracker Jack returns to prominence the familiar logo of the sailor boy and his dog. Officially, those are Sailor Jack and Bingo -- introduced in 1918 and based on the Rueckheims’ nephew and a stray dog adopted by one of the partners.

In addition to the new flavors, Cracker Jack now offers what it describes as enhanced prizes -- stickers with fun facts and digital codes that you can use on a Cracker Jack-branded app. Somehow, those don’t have quite the charm as temporary tattoos and secret decoder rings.


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