10 Things You Didn't Know About Cracker Jack Gallery

10 Things You Didn't Know About Cracker Jack

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.

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

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

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.