Remember This? Cracker Jack prizes

Dorri Partain
Contributor


Candy-coated popcorn, peanuts, and a prize- that’s what you get with Cracker Jack!


This tasty snack was permanently connected with watching baseball when it was mentioned in the 1908 tune,”Take me out to the ballgame”.


Written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, who had never actually attended a game, the tune has been a seventh inning staple at Major League stadiums, so it’s only natural that occasionally the prize inside is a baseball card.


Cracker Jack first included baseball player cards in 1915 and 1916 after prizes were first included in boxes in 1912.


The combination of caramel, popcorn, and peanuts was introduced at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair by Frederick W. Rueckheim; his grandson was the inspiration for the tyke pictured on every box, Sailor Jack.


After years of producing small plastic toys as prizes, the company began producing paper prizes; in 1991 the idea to return to baseball cards led to the miniaturization of Topps brand cards in a collector’s series.


Designed as “micro-cards”, these 1 ¼ by 1 ¾ inch cards were produced as two 36 card sets, featuring popular players such as the Royal’s Bo Jackson.


Set 1 sold 75 million boxes of Cracker Jack, and set 2 sold 60 million; as a mail-in offer, collectors could purchase a special-sized album to contain the 72-card series.


In 1992, the Topps brand was switched for Fleer’s Don Russ cards but the 36 card set only generated 60 million boxes sold; for the 1993 series, Cracker Jack reproduced the original cards from 1915 to avoid the MLB royalty fees but the 24 card set only sold 50 million, which ended the series of micro baseball cards.

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