When Was Cracker Jacks Invented
- October 11, 2021
A German immigrant named Frederick "Fritz" William Rueckheim invented Cracker Jack, a snack consisting of molasses-flavored caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts.The Ferris wheel, Aunt Jemima pancakes, and the ice cream cone were also introduced at this event.Robert died of pneumonia at age 8, shortly after his image appeared on boxes of Cracker Jack.The sailor boy image acquired such meaning for the founder of Cracker Jack, he had it carved on his tombstone, which is in St. Henry's Cemetery in Chicago.Immortalized in 1908 in the lyrics of the baseball song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," Cracker Jack added surprises in each package."Take Me Out to the Ball Game," written in 1908 by Norworth and Von Tilzer, contains a reference to "Cracker Jack" in the lyrics."Cracker Jack is replacing toy prizes inside with digital codes.".
History of Popcorn and Cracker Jacks, Whats Cooking America
Among those prehistoric kernels, they found six that were partly or completely popped.They have been carbon dated to be about 5,600 years old.10th Century – In southwest Utah, a 1,000 year old popped kernel of popcorn was found in a dry cave inhabited by predecessors of the Pueblo Indian.The early colonists called it popped corn , parching corn , and rice corn .The first popcorn machine was invented by Charles Cretors of Chicago, Illinois in 1885.Today much of the popcorn you buy at movies and fairs is popped in poppers made by the Cretors family.20th Century – In 1914, Cloid H. Smith founded the American Pop Corn Company in the heart of corn country (Sioux City, Iowa) and launched America’s first brand name popcorn called Jolly Time.He bought a popcorn machine and started a business in a small store near a theater.Cracker Jacks History:.Cracker Jack and the Sailor Jack and Bingo characters are Registered Trademarks of RECOT, Inc., used by Frito-Lay, Inc., 1998.My great-grandfather, Frederick Rueckheim (1846–1934), first came over from Germany, at age 14, to work on a farm.According to the article How Cracker Jack Began , by Jeffrey Maxwell gives an fairly accurate story on his website.The brothers called their company F.W.The brothers moved five times between 1875-1884.1893 – At the first World’s Fair in Chicago (called the World’s Columbia Exposition) which opened to show the world what progress Chicago had made since the fire of 1871, the two brothers came up with the idea of covering popcorn with molasses.1896 – Legend notes that the name “Cracker Jack” came into use when a customer or a salesman, who tried the Rueckheim product, exclaimed “That really a cracker – Jack!” Actually the words “cracker jack” was a slang expression on those days, meaning “something very pleasing or excellent.” As the brothers loved the name “Cracker Jack,” they received a trademark for it under F.W.Rueckheim & Brother of Chicago.1908 – The 1908 song called Take Me Out To The Ball Game , written by Jack Norworth (1879-1959), vaudeville entertainer and songwriter, with the line, “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks” immortalized Cracker Jacks.In 1958, on the 50th anniversary of this song, the Major League Baseball, Inc.
presented Jack Norworth with a gold lifetime ball park pass.1912 – There was not always a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks.They called him “Jack the Sailor.” They also changes the outside of the boxes to have red, white, and blue stripes to show their patriotism during World War I.1922 – The company was named The Cracker Jack Co. .
Ask Chicago: Why Does Cracker Jack Have So Many Birth Dates
I’ve seen both 1871 and 1896 given as Cracker Jack’s birth date, which would make this year its 150th or 125th anniversary. .
Cracker Jack: Still an Old Reliable at the Old Ball Game
The way baseball stadium menus have changed in recent years, an updated verse of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” might include the lyric, “Buy me some sushi and lobster rolls,” rather than peanuts and Cracker Jack. .
Both he and his family fought anti-German sentiments during World War I and used that attack on their patriotism as inspiration for Sailor Jack and Bingo, the little boy and his dog who still appear on the front of Cracker Jack boxes.Rueckheim’s marketing skills also spawned the Cracker Jack baseball cards and prizes, which remain prized by collectors. These distinctions among national, cultural, and ethnic identities created problems for Frederick in his later years when anti-German sentiments rose in the United States during World War I.During his army service, he attended night school and studied with a private tutor—embracing that Prussian dedication to education.After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Frederick moved to Chicago to help remove debris from the city’s streets.After the Civil War, popcorn production became a national industry.He partnered with a man named William Brinkmeyer, whose confectionary business had been destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire.Frederick purchased the business in its entirety by the end of the year and asked his brother Louis to come to America—creating the F.W.Louis Rueckheim (1849–1927), Frederick’s brother, was a key person in Frederick’s life and the real inventor of Cracker Jack.Like Frederick, Louis served in the German army and fought in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.Little else has been uncovered about Louis’ life in Germany.The brothers sold popcorn bricks and other popcorn-based products using the general brand name Reliable Confections. Cracker Jack, the company’s signature product, was invented only after the company had been in business for twenty years—such was the popularity and profitability of unbranded popcorn as a snack during the nineteenth century.Rueckheim & Brother built its first factory on East Van Buren Street in Chicago, focusing on popcorn products.Rueckheim & Brother began promoting the product nationally in the spring of 1896.Four and a half tons of Cracker Jack was manufactured daily and shipped throughout the United States for this initial promotional campaign. The recipe for Cracker Jack has only changed once since 1896.Rueckheim & Brother trademarked the name “Cracker Jack” in 1896.While Louis supervised product manufacturing, Frederick was responsible for marketing, but he had nothing to do with the most famous inadvertent publicity campaign for Cracker Jack: the 1908 song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”—referring to the American sport of baseball.Cracker Jack did include baseball cards and score counters in Cracker Jack boxes.Both card sets remain popular with collectors.Frederick Rueckheim might have borrowed the idea of prizes in popcorn boxes from the Checkers candy company, who claimed to have created the “prize in a box” concept.Some sources state that Frederick introduced prizes in the 1890s, relying on vendors to hand out prizes after scooping Cracker Jack from tubs.The prizes were initially made of paper or metal.Cracker Jack was not the company’s only product.Angelus Marshmallows were introduced in 1907 and were the company’s second-most popular product. The company’s most successful marketing campaign was 1932’s Cracker Jack Mystery Club.Over 200,000 children were members from 1933 to 1936.Frederick’s marketing would not have been successful if Louis had not resolved the initial stickiness issue.Another manufacturing issue, the moisture-proof packaging, was also key to Cracker Jack’s success.Without Eckstein’s invention, Cracker Jack could not be sold in individual boxes. Rueckheim Brothers & Eckstein and nine other Chicago candy factories experienced a serious strike in 1903. The child labor issue was a more serious problem for the Rueckheims.By the end of the nineteenth century, the Rueckheim Brothers, other confectionery firms, and other industries were investigated for poor working conditions for their child laborers.The first Child Labor Law was passed in Illinois in 1893; at that time 8.2% of children in Illinois were employed.Before that Child Labor Law, 9% of Illinois children were employed.By 1909, 1.3% of Illinois children were employed.The Rueckheim Brothers & Eckstein factory employed 181 children in 1901, the sixth-largest employer of children in Chicago according to the Chief State Factory Inspector of Illinois—making the company a popular target for women’s groups.The Industrial Committee of the Illinois Federation of Women’s Clubs was refused admittance to the Desplaines Street factory in December 1902.By 1908, Rueckheim Brothers & Eckstein had reduced its child labor force to 95, but rose to the fifth-ranked employer of children in Chicago. Rueckheim Brothers & Eckstein were one of many companies investigated for child labor law infractions.Frederick himself became the target of anti-German sentiments when the United States entered World War I.Even prior to America’s entry in World War I, Americans were growing wary of Germany.Bernhard Dernburg, the head of the German Red Cross in the United States, reminded people that the German government had placed ads in newspapers warning Americans not to sail under British flags and that “anybody can commit suicide if he wants to.” Americans themselves were divided about entering a European war even after the sinking of the Lusitania and subsequent passenger liners. These and other reported plots induced wartime hysteria against Germans, German culture, and the German language. We don’t know if the American Protective League was involved with the subsequent Frederick Rueckheim investigation, but the possibility exists.The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917.The militia members then reported Frederick to federal investigators.During and after the war, the company continued to grow.In February 1922, the company decided to change its name to The Cracker Jack Company, focusing on the product rather than the company founders. By 1923, the company had ceased production of most of its other products and was primarily manufacturing Cracker Jack, Angelus Marshmallows, and unbranded popcorn bricks. The increasing volume of popcorn needed by the Cracker Jack Company affected the commodity price of corn. By 1927, the company sold 138 million boxes of Cracker Jack per year. By 1930, the Cracker Jack Company used 25 percent of the world’s supply of popcorn for its products and spent $1.5 million ($19.6 million in 2010) to build another plant in Chicago.Married twice, Frederick’s first marriage to Mathilda Mell (1846–1902) produced his four children: Frederick, Junior (1874–1937), Edwin Louis (1876–1921), Emma Lydia (1877–1921), and Laura Wilhelmina (1879–1936).Like Frederick, Mathilda was born in Germany.Laura pursued a career as an opera singer before her marriage to the artist, Frank Werner, who also later joined The Cracker Jack Company.Frederick, Junior, focused on the family business, eventually serving as president of the Cracker Jack Company after his father’s death in 1934.Edwin also worked at the company until his own early death in 1921.Rueckheim & Brother from 1895 to 1897.After Frank’s consistent pursuit and Frederick’s approval, Laura agreed to marry Frank in 1909. Laura’s marriage to Frank proved critical to the Rueckheim family when the Cracker Jack Company needed new leaders in the late 1920s. Thus, like his father-in-law, Frank Werner was affected by the anti-German sentiments aroused during World War I.By 1930, Frank Werner had ended his career as an artist and joined the family business.The 1921 death of Edwin Rueckheim and the 1927 death of Louis Rueckheim created a void in the Cracker Jack Company leadership.In 1908, Frederick married his second wife, Mrs. Ola J.
Roberts (1865–1941).She had two children, Harry and Alta, from that previous marriage.Alta became engaged to a Dr. Robert Campbell in 1916.The detectives persuaded Alta to telephone Campbell and suggest a meeting.As with Frederick and his family, his brother Louis Rueckheim and his family also served as Cracker Jack Company executives. Cracker Jack and Company was truly a family business, incorporating the Rueckheim brothers, their children, and their in-laws.He lived a tumultuous life: rebuilding Chicago after the Great Fire, transforming popcorn from a commodity snack to a multi-ingredient confection, overcoming anti-German hysteria during World War I, and enduring the untimely deaths of his first wife, two children, and one grandchild.Cracker Jack, the product, has undergone few changes since 1896; Cracker Jack, the company, like other candy companies, has been absorbed into larger snack food entities.The Rueckheim family sold The Cracker Jack Company to Borden in 1964; Borden sold Cracker Jack to the Frito-Lay division of Pepsico in 1997. At its peak, the Cracker Jack Company sold 137,754,000 boxes of Cracker Jack in 1927. In 2012, Cracker Jack generated $68 million in sales in the United States. Though Frederick Rueckheim’s product no longer dominates popcorn snack or confectionary sales, Cracker Jack remains linked to baseball and nostalgia through the “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” song and collector interest in the Rueckheim-era metal and paper prizes.Mathilda’s reputation as a poet and Laura’s brief career as an opera singer, including studying opera in Berlin, indicate a family that valued culture and art.Frederick immigrated to the United States with little money, worked on a farm but dreamed of living in the city, moved to the city, and founded a successful international business that enriched his entire family.His life also included the base metal found underneath a gilded surface: child labor in his factories, labor strikes, untimely family deaths, and altercations with the police. .
'Sailor Jack' On The Cracker Jack Box Was A Real Boy From
The elder Rueckheim was a German immigrant farmer-turned-entrepreneur who, along with his brother Louis, created the snack empire selling their peanut and molasses-covered product in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire.In reality, Bingo was a stray dog named Russell who in 1917 had been adopted by Henry Eckstein, a man who had invented special sealed boxes to keep the popcorn fresh.Robert and Russell's image became iconic Crack Jack imagery, including several iterations over the decades, though sadly it's also the picture that immortalizes the young Rueckstein.When he died in 1998, the Cubs recruited a host of celebrities to sing the song during the 7th inning stretch, including Bill Murray and Eddie Vedder over the weekend. .
Cracker Jack Co.
This entry is part of the Encyclopedia's Dictionary of Leading Chicago Businesses (1820-2000) that was prepared by Mark R. Wilson, with additional contributions from Stephen R. Porter and Janice L.