What Are Cracker Jacks?

What are Cracker Jacks? Why, it’s the classic combo of “candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize,” of course! Over the years, Cracker Jacks have become an enduring symbol of American snacking culture. But do you know what is in Cracker Jacks, really? Today we’ll be taking our metaphorical magnifying glass to that iconic ballgame snack, and see what keeps folks coming back to it. *Affects stadium vendor voice* “Cracker Jack facts! Get yer Cracker Jack facts here!”

Do they still make Cracker Jacks?

Yes, Cracker Jacks are still being produced. Manufactured by Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, Cracker Jacks continue to be available in various sizes, including the iconic individual boxes often associated with vendors walking through the crowd at baseball games (and your less-stuffy operas.)

What is in Cracker Jacks?

Cracker Jacks typically consist of caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts (creating a sweet and crunchy combination that is second to none!). The popcorn is coated with a mixture of caramelized sugar, molasses, and butter, providing a rich and distinctive flavor. Peanuts add a savory and nutty element to the mix, complementing the sweetness of the caramel coating. Additionally, each box of Cracker Jacks traditionally contains a small prize or toy, like temporary tattoos, rings, figurines and, in one notable mix-up, the deed to the Cracker Jack packaging factory. (Just kidding.)

Are Cracker Jacks gluten free?

Cracker Jacks are not considered gluten-free. The ingredients in Cracker Jacks typically include popcorn, peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and various flavorings, but the caramel coating may contain ingredients with gluten or be processed in facilities where cross-contamination can occur. I think it may be safe for those with gluten intolerance to eat the prize, though, from a gluten perspective, at least. But I still wouldn’t advise it. 

When were Cracker Jacks invented?

Cracker Jacks were invented in 1896 by brothers Frederick and Louis Rueckheim in Chicago, Illinois. Initially, they called the snack “Candied Popcorn and Peanuts,” but the name changed to Cracker Jack in 1899.

What does Cracker Jack mean?

The term “Cracker Jack” is not just the name of the snack; it has also become synonymous with excellence and outstanding qualities. The phrase “Cracker Jack” gained this connotation due to the product’s marketing slogan: “The More You Eat, the More You Want.” This catchphrase contributed to the perception that Cracker Jacks were not just a tasty treat but something exceptional. Over time, the expression “Cracker Jack” has been colloquially used to describe anything of high quality, for example: “Yet another cracker jack explainer article from your old pals at Sporked!”

There you have it, all the reasons that make Cracker Jacks live up to their moniker. In fact, I’m so inspired that I’ve officially decided, once the day comes, that there will be a stadium Cracker Jack vendor at my funeral. Please bury me with any unwanted prizes, I think I’d look pretty cool going into the afterlife with a temporary tattoo! 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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  • It’s Cracker Jack not Cracker Jacks.

  • the popped corn used to make Cracker Jacks looks to be a round popped corn, not the usual exploded kind ?