According to legend, a salesman accidentally coined the name for the Rueckheim brothers’ delectable snack food. After sampling the peanut-popcorn-and-molasses combination, he declared, “That’s a crackerjack,” using an old term for “first rate.”
The name stuck. And the packaging was also first rate — a cardboard box lined with wax paper so the contents stayed fresh. In 1908, Cracker Jack was immortalized in the song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which is estimated to be the third most frequently sung tune in America. In 1919, the company added a mascot, Sailor Jack, modeled after Frederick Rueckheim’s grandson Robert. When the boy died of pneumonia, his image was kept on the box as a lasting tribute.
Children appreciated that Cracker Jack cost only a nickel for over five decades. But they were especially drawn to the prizes in the box. In the course of 100 years, Cracker Jack delivered over 23 billion tiny prizes — puzzles, dolls, books, whistles, compasses, and hundreds more. Today, sadly, that tradition has ended, but you can scan a digital code inside the box — well, it’s a bag now — to play a “baseball-inspired mobile digital experience.” Oh, well. At least Sailor Jack’s image remains on the front of the package.
Peanuts! Get Your Fresh Peanuts Here!
Last year’s Peanuts movie was more well received than a lot of people anticipated. I think a lot of people thought it was going to harm the memory of Peanuts in some way and were pleasantly surprised. This Monday morning, May 9, Cartoon Network will have a sneak peek of a new series of Peanuts shorts. The shorts are done by France’s Normaal Animation and they have actually been airing overseas for the past two years. The series will then move to Time Warner’s Boomerang channel, where it will be shown every day at 11:30 a.m.
This could be fun. Now I just have to figure out where Boomerang is on my cable system.
Ice, Ice Baby
I have a confession to make. I don’t like it when coffee shops or bars put too much ice in my drink. Sure, put some ice in there, but don’t assume that I want a ton. Too much ice not only makes the drink more watery if you don’t drink it fast enough, it often makes the drink overflow to the point where it’s messy and the cover doesn’t go on correctly. If it’s not “cold” enough, I’ll take full responsibility for my bad ice decision.
Now, having said that, it would never occur to me to actually sue the place that gave me too much ice, but it did occur to Stacy Pincus, who is suing Starbucks for $5 million. But she’s not suing because the drinks are watery or too cumbersome. She says that the chain advertises how many fluid ounces are in their drinks, but that the number includes the ice that is in each tall, grande, or venti cup. She thinks this is a rip-off.
The company says that customers know that an iced drink has to have ice in it.
Maybe the woman should get Jackie Chiles to represent her.
Thinking Outside the Box
Hey, remember the prizes that come in Cracker Jack boxes? Well, you’ll have to remember them, because they’ve gone away.
Instead of getting a prize in every box, you’ll now have to download an app and scan the QR code that will be on a sticker inside the box. It’s all part of Frito-Lay’s attempt to make the beloved snack and its packaging more contemporary.
If you don’t like this, go Like the Facebook page that someone set up to protest the changes.
Is this change really necessary? Are Cracker Jack boxes not flying off the shelves fast enough, and Frito-Lay thinks it’s because of the prizes inside? Are Cracker Jacks so delicious that no one cares about the prizes anyway so they might as well get rid of them? I can’t imagine any kid who would rather scan a code than actually get the prize right away. In this day and age when everything is going digital, you’d think that Cracker Jack would want to stand out a bit and still retain their prizes for fans. Now it’s just another digital “product.”
Hopefully, this will turn out to be just an experiment, a test for baseball season to see if customers want it permanently. If the comments on the official Cracker Jack Facebook page are any indication, people already hate it. I mean, a box that says “Prize Inside!” is a lot snappier than one that says, “Download the App and Then Scan the Bar Code for a Mobile Digital Experience!”
Because I know that’s what I want when I buy my snack foods: more “digital experiences.”
And the Nominees Are…
I don’t know anything about the Tony Awards, other than that they’re named after Frosted Flakes cereal mascot Tony the Tiger, but I think I can summarize this Broadway season rather succinctly:
Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton,.
The acclaimed musical set a record with 16 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Actor in a Musical (Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr.), and several costume/design/lighting nods. The previous record was held by The Producers in 2001 and Billy Elliott in 2009, each with 15 nominations.
The Tony Awards will be broadcast June 12 on CBS.
RIP Mister Softee Songwriter
His name was Les Waas, and he was the adman who came up with the ice cream truck jingle you’ve probably heard 100,000 times every summer (and one you won’t be able to get out of your head the rest of the day if you watch this video — sorry in advance!):
It was originally written for Mister Softee ice cream but now it’s everywhere.
Waas passed away April 19 at the age of 94, though his death was first reported last week. He wrote almost 1,000 other jingles for various companies, and was even president of the Procrastinators Club of America.
Is There a Mistake in the Iconic Iwo Jima Photo?
This picture of Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima in 1945 is one of the most famous photographs in history. But what if we’ve been wrong about it this whole time?
An investigation has started into the identity of one of the Navy men depicted in the photograph after two historians raised questions back in 2014 about who was and wasn’t in the photo. The picture was taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press. The historians aren’t sure that Navy Corpsman John Bradley is actually in the photo, based on where he was stationed, what his job was, and what equipment is being worn by the man in the photo.
One interesting piece of trivia people might not know is that the picture actually shows the second flag that was raised on that spot that day. The first was raised and taken down and replaced with a larger flag.
Our New National Mammal
Have you wondered what our National Mammal is? Well, we haven’t had one until now. It’s going to be the North American bison.
A bill to make the bison the first National Mammal of the United States has passed Congress. Now all they’re waiting for is a signature from President Obama. If he signs it, the bison will join the bald eagle a our national animal representative. As National Bison Association Executive Director Dave Carter says, “The National Mammal Declaration not only recognizes the historic role of bison in America, it celebrates the resurgence of bison as an important part of the American environment, diet, and an emerging part of the agricultural economy.”
The bison almost became extinct in the 19th century. At one point there were fewer than 2,000 in the U.S., and now there are half a million.
It’s National Barbecue Month
You know the warm weather is coming when everyone starts to bring out the barbecue recipes. Here’s one for Baked Barbecued Chicken — Spicy Southern Style. Here’s one for Hoot ’n Holler Baby Back Ribs. If you’re more of a shrimp-on-the-barbie type, this Spicy Chipotle Grilled Shrimp might hit the spot. And if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing on the grill, here’s our handy guide on what to do and not do.
I’m actually using some barbecue sauce in the dinner I’m making tonight, but it’s a total coincidence. I’d be using it even if May were National Chocolate Custard Month.
Oh, by the way, May is also National Chocolate Custard Month.
Upcoming Events and Anniversaries
Mother’s Day (May 8)
Who’s the woman behind the third–most-popular day for sending greeting cards (after Christmas and Valentine’s Day)? Her name was Anna Jarvis.
President Harry S. Truman born (May 8, 1884)
Did you know that the “S” really doesn’t stand for anything specific other than a tribute to both of his grandfathers?
Astor Place Riot (May 10, 1849)
in this major New York City event that a lot of people don’t know about, 25 people were killed and 120 injured.
Nelson Mandela becomes President of South Africa (May 10, 1994)
Mandela promised to serve only one term, and he stepped down in 1999.
Irving Berlin born (May 11, 1888)
In 1951, the songwriter told The Saturday Evening Post how surprised he was by the success of “White Christmas.”
Katharine Hepburn born (May 12, 1907)
The actress rang up an impressive list of award wins and nominations, even if Dorothy Parker didn’t think much of her Broadway work.