They haven’t had real prizes since the 1970s.
I was just gonna say… Has OP opened a box of Cracker Jacks in the last 20 or 30 years? What’s in there hardly counts as a prize. Every box I’ve ever seen in my lifetime had some tiny paper-based tchotchke.
I remember in grade school when you started to get a lot of temporary tattoos instead of plastic toys. It was at that time that I switched over to Japanese rice candy which still came with toys most of the time and had cool edible “plastic” wrapping (actually clear rice based cellulose).
Frankly Cracker Jacks are garbage food anyhow. The nuts have always been over roasted, and the caramel tends toward being burnt. If it came with a toy or were cheap it would be fine, but it’s not a cheap candy.
For the money CJ wants I can find local or regional caramel corn that is actually decent.
Same problem with Hostess Fruit Pies. My local convenience store wants $2 for a fucking fruit pie. That’s insane.
I can remember as a kid getting good prizes in Crackerjack, like little adjustable metal rings that had a cap you could pull off that concealed a stamp (back when everyone had stamp pads handy). Later on they were usually little get the ball in the holes puzzles. Every year I think they removed 2 more peanuts from the box. I guess if paper puzzles are too expensive to include then peanuts would be out of the question.
There used to be a wrapped taffy candy, soft but tasted kind of like Bit-O-Honey, that came in a box with a magic trick. I remember one I got had to metal shapes that you could only magically join together if you knew the trick.
Oh, that’s what that extra crunchy stuff was?
(more seriously, the prizes were the only reason I’d touch the stuff. Even as a kid I disliked how it would stick in my teeth…)
Kinder Eggs is where it’s at these days, if you can find them at an import grocer. Cracker Jack prizes stopped being cool when a suitor could no longer plausibly sneak an engagement ring into a box before a propsal.
Oh, gosh, that brings on some nostalgia.
I actually found some at an oktoberfest-themed place a few years ago. Mine ended up containing a flywheel-powered motorcycle. Yes, I was a big kid about it. Vrooom!
Stupid import laws.
When I was a kid Kinder egg used to have loads of toy kits to assemble. Then they seemed to go all-in on crappy collectible figurines and I lost all interest.
Cracker Jack has been providing paper or cardboard prizes for as long as I can remember. I never saw a plastic or metal prize (they were given out before my time).
Cracker Jack isn’t burnt–that’s the molasses you’re tasting.
I guess the writer didn’t get the memo. Due to cost cuts, the prize in Bag of Cracker Jack is now… a peanut.
The longer I live away from America, the less I understand the overwrought nostalgia devoted to junk food.
You consistently pay more and get less. You know about that, right? For years large corporations have been reducing the size of the package and simultaneously increasing the price — this happens with cereal, detergent, soup, you name it.
Yes, I know about inflation. That said, pretty much every foodstuff known to exist is much more affordable now on a per-ounce basis (adjusted for inflation) than it was in 1896 when Cracker Jack was invented, or whatever sepia-toned era you’re remembering when it came in a box and had real toys.
Great. Now I’m going to have to renew my driver’s license at the DMV like everyone else.
Remember when cereal boxes had toys inside?
Yeah, this is also my experience. I had a box of Kinder toys in my youth and a great many of them were things like pull-back cars you had to assemble yourself, or interesting little mechanical gee-gaws. I remember a toy skier where the little figure had poseable arms and legs - I played with that for a long time, fascinated at the detail that had gone into this tiny ‘freebie’.
At least that’s how I remember it, and it’s probably best I don’t have it any more. But they definitely made a shift to seasonal figurine collections that were nowhere near as interesting. One of the reasons I don’t like this is that it makes me sound like a nostalgia-blinded old geezer obsessed with the good old days. I try hard to avoid falling into that trap, but, you know, they don’t make it easy.
Whether you’re from America, England, China, or Madagascar, the food of your childhood brings nostalgia. And that most definitely includes caramel-coated popcorn & peanuts that’ve come with a prize inside since our grandparents’ childhoods.
The Cracker Jack Prize Inside has been as much a part of the nostalgia and love for the brand…
They’re selling nostalgia, which is to say, fun yesterday. If you want fun today, you’re out of luck.
I used to spit out the peanuts. God how I hated the peanuts. I remember whenever I got a box I’d expound with a 9 year old’s earnest zeal how the peanuts ruined everything.
In the 70s, more often than not the prize was a crappy plastic ring as I recall. Still beat a QR code though.