Cracker Jack and its first slogan in history, “The more you eat, the more you want”, were first registered in 1896. However, snacks featuring popcorn and peanuts slathered in molasses and caramel were not new and certainly dated back at least to the 1860s. Cracker Jack derived its name from the expression indicating doing an outstanding job. It was one of the first packaged snack foods, or as we refer to them today, “junk foods”. You can get some Cracker Jack delivered to your door by clicking here.
Cracker Jack was first produced in Chicago, Illinois by Fritz Rueckheim and his brother, Louis. Fritz was first on the Chicago scene, having come to town during the reconstruction boom following the great Chicago Fire. After early success selling his snack at The Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893, he brought over brother Louis from Germany. They originally named the company F.W. Rueckheim & Bro. Soon, however, waxed paper packaging was introduced in 1899 thanks to Henry Eckstein. By 1902, the company was re-named Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein. These times in Chicago were also marked by the birth of the Uneeda Biscuit and Nabisco.
Musical Ties and Baseball
The packaged snack quickly became popular at baseball games. In 1907, the wildly popular song, “Take Me out to the Ball Game” among whose lyrics stated “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack. I don’t care if I ever get back…” provided free advertisement of the Cracker Jack name and further increased sales. In fact, the song, which includes the Cracker Jack name every time it is sung, has become synonymous with American Baseball today at all levels.
By 1922, the company’s name was officially changed to The Cracker Jack Company, now featuring a prize in each box. Cracker Jack advertising included Sailor Jack and his dog, Bingo.
Lots of Prizes over the Years
Here are just some of the long list of prizes that Cracker Jack has included in its boxes:
Toy figurines: These small plastic or metal toys were popular prizes in the early days of Cracker Jack. They often depicted animals, vehicles, or characters from popular movies or TV shows.
Decoder rings: These rings had secret codes that could be used to reveal hidden messages.
Temporary tattoos: These paper tattoos could be applied to the skin and would wash off after a few days.
Stickers: Cracker Jack has included a variety of stickers over the years, including those featuring sports teams, cartoon characters, and other popular images.
Whistles: These small plastic or metal whistles could be blown to make noise.
Keychains: These small chains could be attached to keys or backpacks.
Books: Cracker Jack has included small books, often with illustrated stories, as prizes.
Magnets: These small magnets could be stuck to refrigerators or other metal surfaces.
Puzzles: Cracker Jack has included a variety of puzzles over the years, including jigsaw puzzles, mazes, and word games.
Games: Some Cracker Jack prizes have included small games, such as miniature versions of board games or card games.
Cracker Jack Milestones
1896: The F.W. Rueckheim Company introduces Cracker Jack. The company is owned by Frederick and Louis Rueckheim.
1902: The original recipe for Cracker Jack, which includes molasses and peanuts, is patented by the Rueckheim brothers.
1922: The Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein company (formerly the F.W. Rueckheim Company) is sold to the Cracker Jack Corporation, a subsidiary of Borden.
1964: Borden sells Cracker Jack to Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo.
1997: Frito-Lay discontinues the use of physical prizes in Cracker Jack boxes, opting instead for digital codes that can be redeemed online.
2013: Frito-Lay reintroduces physical prizes in Cracker Jack boxes, in response to customer demand.
- Year Started: 1896
- Year Ended: 2099
- Origin Of Name: Named after the phrase meaning to do a great job.
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: F.W. Rueckheim & Bro.
- Owner While In Use: Borden
- Owner Successor: Pepsico
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: potato chips, Oreo cookies
- Naics Code: 311919
- Location Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois