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Cracker Jack was invented by Frederick Reuckheim, a successful popcorn salesman in Chicago, Illinois. Reuckheim wanted to stand out from the many other popcorn salesmen, so he invented a product that included molasses-covered popcorn and peanuts. He named it Cracker Jack after one of his salesman exclaimed “that’s a Cracker Jack!” – which meant it was of excellent quality. Reuckheim packaged Cracker Jack in easy-to-sell wax-sealed cardboard boxes.


Reuckheim, however, got his big break when an actor named Jack Norworth published the famous song “Take me out to the Ballgame,” with its famous lyrics “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack” in 1908. This forever linked Reuckheim’s product and the popular sport of baseball. Ironically, Norworth had never even been to a baseball game.


In 1910, Reuckheim made the decision to include coupons within Cracker Jack boxes that could be redeemed for things like sewing machines or sets of silverware. Reuckheim’s best decision, however, came in 1912, when he replaced the coupons with packaged prizes that appealed to kids. Baseball cards, figurines, whistles, and puzzles were among the many prizes included over the years. Original Cracker Jack baseball cards sell for tens of thousands of dollars today! In 2016, it was announced that special QR codes would replace the traditional packaged prizes in future boxes of Cracker Jack.