I Don’t Ever Not Care If I Don’t Never Not Get Back (Cracker Jack)
Stick around for a doolalley of a column on America's oldest snack.

Dan Van Oss Complete Columns, Food Leave a Comment

Cracker Jack is a uniquely American snack surprisingly made from neither crackers nor jacks, but molasses-flavored popcorn and peanuts. It was invented in the late 19th century (Official Motto: “Anyone Want To Buy A Bunch Of Buggy Whips Cheap?”) by Frederick William Rueckheim, a Chicago popcorn vendor who developed the now closely-guarded secret method of keeping molasses-coated popcorn kernels from clumping together by [redacted by Frito Lay company], and that’s how babies are made. Fritz, as he was called, produced the first batch of his new confection in 1896, and trademarked the “Cracker Jack” name later that year. The name was taken after an unusually excited customer, after tasting it, proclaimed “that’s a crackerjack!”, which, not to drive you all doolally and take the gilt off the gingerbread, but at the time meant it was the cat’s meow of a dressed to the nine’s bee’s knees sitting in the catbird seat, by a long chalk. The name stuck like a hot glob of molasses on a doolally, and Cracker Jack began selling like hotcakes, albeit hotcakes made from peanuts and molasses-coated popcorn using the super-secret method of [redacted by Frito Lay company], and that’s how we beat the Nazis in the Big War. Fritz quickly registered the Cracker Jack name, along with the slogan “The More You Eat The More You Want,” which it obviously did not steal from the National School Lunch Association.

Save your sous for your grammatical hissy fit

Cracker Jack’s long association with the game of baseball began in 1908 when songwriting team Jack “No, Not The Cracker Kind” Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer wrote the song “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” containing the line “Ev’ry sou, Katie blew,” which even the hipsters and doolallies of the time didn’t get. But it also featured the line “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never get back,” which is now traditionally sung during a baseball game’s “Seventh Inning Stretch,” assuring that generations of stuffy ex-English teachers would throw a grammatical hissy fit because of its use of a double-negative. Nevertheless, the song has unmistakably cemented Cracker Jack and baseball together like a hot glob of molasses on a bee’s knee, and it is still as common a sight at ballparks across America as that drunk guy and his loud friends who always sit behind you at every game.

Hippo Vaughn and the Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs

One of the hallmarks of Cracker Jack that separate it from it’s rival candy-coated popcorn products such as Fiddle Faddle, Poppycock, Screaming Yellow Zonkers or Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs is not only that it surprisingly has the least ridiculous-sounding name, but its inclusion of a “prize” inside, although all you apparently have to do to “win” the prize is to be able to eat candy-coated popcorn and peanuts. Prizes were placed in boxes starting in 1912 and originally were called a “Toy Surprise,” because anyone discovering the “toy surprise” was “surprised” to find a baseball card was called a “toy.” However, if you happen to be an approximately 105-year-old boy with a 1915 Cracker Jack “Hippo Vaughn” card in mint condition, you could sell it for $15,000, provided you hadn’t already died from a mirth-induced heart attack from laughing at the name “Hippo.” Longtime fans of Cracker Jack have lamented the quality of the recent prizes, however, which have been reduced to stickers, paper puzzles and lame jokes that would make even Bazooka Joe cringe.

So next time you’re at the ballpark, remember to remember past remembrances by remembering to get some Cracker Jack, and enjoy the sweet caramel goodness of Fritz Rueckheim’s famous recipe made by [redacted by Frito Lay company] and then the robots will come to destroy us.

Photo Credit: JeepersMedia cc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *