A Prize in Every Box… Uh… Bag?

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I wonder how big the prize is in a BAG of Cracker Jack?!

Marquette, Michigan  –  February 19, 2014  –  On this day in 1912, Cracker Jack added the surprise toy to every package.

In honor of the 102nd anniversary of Cracker Jack prizes, I went looking for a box of Cracker Jack.

Three stores later, I had to settle for a BAG of Cracker Jack. Maybe there’s a BIG prize in there!

Back in 1912, you could find tin whistles, metal train pieces, decoder rings, tin bookmarks and many other cool little toys. The toys were inexpensive… but they were still TOYS!

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I remember small plastic puzzles and lick-’em-and-stick-’em tattoos. Mom hated those! We used to cover our arms, legs and faces with the ink from that one little piece of paper.

The best prize I ever got from a box of Cracker Jack was a little plastic magnifying glass. I treasured that toy all summer long and I even brought it to school with me in the fall.

Today I shared my Cracker Jacks with my coworker, Bill Tibor, and I even gave him the prize (I’m nice like that).

As it turned out, the “prize” was a sticker… at least it wasn’t one of those crazy origami-like paper-folding projects.

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Wait… What?! A sticker? Where’s the prize? Are we being punked? What happened to the toys?

I’m sure we can’t have little toys in Cracker Jacks anymore because somebody’s kid choked on one. While I think that’s sad, I also think parents need to watch their children and teach them not to endanger themselves.

As a child of the 70s, I had ample opportunity to chew on lead-based paint and choke on all the small toys I played with. I didn’t though, because my mother watched me like a hawk and constantly screeched, “NOOOO! Don’t put that in your mouth!” (Thanks, Mom!)

Even though Cracker Jacks prizes are lame now, I still like Cracker Jacks. The taste reminds me of being a sticky little kid running around in the summer (and yes, I also drank out of a garden hose).

If you’re fed up with paper prizes in your Cracker Jacks, you can download an app for your smartphone. The apps have the classic cardboard and plastic games that you tilt to get the little ball in the hole. These should stick around for a while — I haven’t heard of anyone choking on a smartphone… yet…

And now, here’s some trivia:

What do Cracker Jacks, the Ferris Wheel, and Aunt Jemima Pancakes all have in common?

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