Prizes inserted into Cracker Jack boxes

Frederick William Rueckheim left Germany to seek his fortune in the land of opportunity – in his case, Chicago. He worked on a farm to make ends meet, but his entrepreneurial spirit led him to notice the real money was not in raw materials, but in the products that could be made out of them. Americans were getting to like the new candy, peanuts and popcorn snacks; but what if there was a way to combine all those into one? Rueckheim took the $200 he saved up and launched his new foodstuff — which, from humble beginnings grew to one of the best-known snacks in America. Helped along prodigiously by Ruckheim’s flair for marketing.

On this day, February 13, in 1913, the first prizes went into boxes of Cracker Jack snacks. Rueckheim already offered coupons for discounts on future boxes or for free prizes inside their boxes; but shipping the prizes turned out to be rather expensive. So the company began looking at ways to pack the prize inside the box.

Four years before the prize-in-a-box idea, Cracker Jack got the kind of endorsement a company can only dream about. A Tin Pan Alley songwriter made a song about baseball, which included the line, “Buy me some Peanuts and Cracker Jack.” Before long it was sang at every baseball game nationwide, giving the sugary snack recognition that would be worth millions today.

      

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