It gets weird though when you start having anachronistic nostalgia, as I do for Marmite.
My grandpa used to give me the prizes; my favorite was a tiny plastic compass that (sort of) worked. But even back in the late '70s, the prizes were often a paperboard thing. From the looks of some of the classic prizes from the “prize museum” referenced above, they’ve been putting cheap paper prizes in since the early days, as well as decoder rings.
In 1982 a 9-year old girl sued because her box of Cracker Jack didn’t include a toy. She got an apology and a coupon for another box of Cracker Jack although from what I gather she didn’t get reimbursed $19 for her court costs.
I wonder where she is now and what she thinks of this news.
My prize was . . . diabetes!
I’m old enough to remember real (plastic or metal) prizes being in Cracker Jack boxes, but the only prize I specifically remember getting is a tiny joke book. And from that tiny joke book, I remember but one joke:
“What’s green and sings?”
Thank you, thank you! You’ve been great!
Jack Gilford is indelibly burned into my brain, I love those Cracker Jack commercials.
Exactly. Their “prizes” were shit. I don’t think anyone has spent more than 10 seconds with one of them.
If I were them and still wanted to include a “prize”, Id make an App where you scan either a card in the box, or a code on the inside of the box. Code then gives you something for the online App. People love those collectors apps like Topps virtual cards, or make some virtual sim app and the cards get you things like clothes for your character, or stuff for your house, or what ever.
But as it was, it was a waste of time and money adding something that NO ONE enjoyed.
No problem. I’ll explain (from the perspective of a kid born in the 1960s).
Parents buy Cracker Jacks because they like them. Kids go nuts because there’s a PRIZE IN THE BOX, HOW COOL IS THAT? Kids think the molasses taste is awful and kind of burnt. Some kids (like me) think the peanuts are a hazard to be eaten around. Kids eat only enough of the piss-poor contents to get to the prize, which sucks. Kids whine because the other kid got a better prize. Sulking and/or tears ensue. The box and remaining contents are thrown away.
The next time Cracker Jacks are purchased, kids go nuts because there’s A PRIZE IN THE BOX, HOW COOL IS THAT?
Rinse and repeat.
Oh yeah! I remember one occasion in the 1970s when we brought home a box of Count Chocula and there must have been a mishap on the assembly line because it had six or seven toy surprises inside! It was like hitting the jackpot. My brother and I told our neighborhood friends about it and they all added Count Chocula to their moms grocery lists that week. Sure enough, they ended up with multiple prizes too.
Yeah, and I suppose you also decided which breakfast cereal you wanted based on the picture of the toy on the box?
Admit it, you know you did.
Based on my daily commute, I am pretty sure they still randomly issue drivers licenses.
I believe they are still illegal in the USA.
Cracker Jacks are meh.
Uncle Woody’s here in Seattle is much much better and if you want to go mass market then Crunch 'n Munch (mmmm toffee flavor) is what you wanna get.
This has me thinking…
I love me some cracker jacks, but they never have enough peanuts. I’ve made caramel corn before (which is delish), so… why don’t I… add peanuts and molasses!?
New startup idea: Cracker Japhroaigs. The prize inside is a hand written piece of obfuscated Perl code.
Secret decoder rings get lost, temporary tattoos wash off in the bath, and plastic whistles never really work anyhow. Decades later, you’re still getting mileage out of that joke, making strangers laugh. I think this is more evidence that experiences are usually better than things.
Not a fish pun?
I think we have a serious business opportunity here. A whole new generation of kids can be introduced to our terrible, terrible jokes.
They started adding “Digital prizes” such as “Free” games on their site a few years ago but they wre pretty terrible. Buy Red Rose original black tea in the 100 bag box. It actually comes with a little animal or nautical figurine. That’s right, you get a prize with tea instead of the caramel popcorn treat. I started to collect them by accident.
Actually there was a news story about how that’s pretty close to what they’ll now be offering. From the article:
Download an app, scan a sticker inside the Cracker Jack box and access “baseball-inspired mobile digital experiences,” the company said, launching the change ahead of baseball season. The packaging and logo will also be “contemporized.”