Nugget of Knowledge: Cracker Jack


Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV) – Who invented Cracker Jacks?

It’s popcorn and a few peanuts and a prize.

F. W. Rueckheim was a German immigrant who became a popular Chicago popcorn vendor. He had a little shop that sold popcorn, taffy, marshmallows, peanuts, caramels and other treats.

When he decided to mix some ingredients together and sell them, he was on to something good.

Cracker Jacks were first sold at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair at the F. W. Rueckheim booth.

How did it get its name?

It came from a slang term “That’s a crackerjack!” meaning, “That’s excellent.”

The boy, Sailor Jack, and his dog, Bingo, are named for Rueckheim’s eight-year-old grandson whose name was Robert who had a dog named Bingo. Robert became Jack because of Cracker Jack.

This did not have a happy ending: Robert died of pneumonia not long after the characters appeared on the box.

Rueckheim had the sailor boy and his dog carved onto Robert’s tombstone. It’s in St. Henry’s Cemetery in Chicago.

Today’s prize: the box contains a digital code you can use to play baseball-themed games through a mobile app. Sorry, no toys.

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