Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review May 25, 2004 / 5 Sivan, 5764

Lenore Skenazy

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Cracker Jacks deserved to be struck out | NEW YORK — Hey, Cracker Jacks - goodbye and good riddance! Get outta town! Don't come back until you show a kernel of self-respect!

Yes, the time-honored treat has been tossed out of Yankee Stadium, the only big-time ballpark with the guts to do what's right. This is great news even though in Jacks' place comes the candy corn also-ran, Crunch 'n Munch.

"Travesty!" "Ignominy!" "Other big word meaning I'm irrationally peeved about something trivial!"

Oh, quit yer yapping! So what if it seems like next thing you know George Steinbrenner's gonna replace Coke with ShopRite Cola? Fact is, it's Cracker Jacks that has got molasses on its hands. The caramel-coated classic let us down. Buy me some peanuts and Crunch 'n Munch, I don't care 'cause Jacks screwed up a bunch.

How so? Here's how: For more than 100 years, Cracker Jacks came just the way we liked 'em - in a waxy little box with a great big history. It was in 1893 when Fred and Louis Rueckheim introduced the sugared show-stopper at the Chicago World's Fair. But it wasn't until a fella named Henry Eckstein figured out how to wax-seal the box three years later that the future phenom hit a homer. Suddenly, instead of being sold by the scoop, the cavity catalyst could be shipped across the country, staying fresh.

Or as fresh as Crackers Jacks ever stayed, anyway. They always kind of squeaked, right?

By the time Rueckheims started tossing in a prize - 1912, year of the Titanic - the kiddie confection was on its way to icon status. Everyone loved the stuff. It deserved that free ad of a song.

Donate to JWR

Now fast-forward almost a century. Cracker Jacks' prizes, once whistles and tops, have become tiny, tired tattoos. The nuts are harder to find than WMD. Frito-Lay bought the company in 1997 and by 2002 was thinking the unthinkable:

Jacks in a bag.

Imagine Fritos in a box! Jim Beam in a can! Budweiser served in individual ketchup packets! That's how stupid Cracker Jacks look in a bag. Limp and pathetic. If ever a candy product needed Levitra, this is it.

All the other stadiums just rolled over and said, "Fine." Sold the sticky stuff in bags softer than a David Wells sock puppet. But not the House that Ruth Got Popcorn Stuck Between His Teeth In. And for a while, by golly, that Steinbrenner spine got results.

Last year, Frito-Lay produced big boxes of Cracker Jacks just for Yankee Stadium. "If anyone still has one of those boxes, it's a collector's item," says Charles Nicolas, a Frito-Lay spokesman. Because the deal was this: By 2004, the company would sell bags and only bags to all the ballparks.

That's when the Yanks said no thanks. Called up Crunch 'n Munch and cut a deal.

That brand may be bland as a Boise strip mall. Prize-free. Charmless. But at least it comes in a box, which makes it stand tall.

Just like Yankee Stadium.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

Lenore Skenazy Archives


© 2004, New York Daily News