FERGUS FALLS -- Otter Tail baby boomers can remember their growing-up years, a time when people also stayed closer to home.
Many of us, during the 1950s and 1960s, sought out Cracker Jacks at neighborhood grocery stores. We loved the crunchy molasses-flavored caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts snack, and the anticipation of the prize in each box. Those prizes included small plastic objects such as cowboys, spacemen, dogs, whistles and locomotives.
The brand name of Cracker Jack is singular and Cracker Jacks in and of themselves is plural.
This snack was first served at baseball games as early as 1896, the creation of German immigrant and Chicago resident Frederick Rueckheim.
In 1908, Jack Norworth wrote the words to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and included a reference to Cracker Jacks.
Norworth wrote the song while riding the subway near the old Polo Grounds in New York, home of the former baseball team, the New York Giants. A half century later the Giants, including Willie Mays, moved to San Francisco.
During many baseball games, we sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks
I don’t care if I never get back
Well it’s root, root, root for the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out.
At the old, ball game.
In 1918, during World War I, Cracker Jack sold for eight cents a box and 15 cents for two boxes. Some Cracker Jack boxes, on the outside, included pictures of Jackies (sailors) with the words, “Enlist in the U.S. Navy.”
Today you can still buy Cracker Jacks at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. Many retail outlets and online sellers offer Cracker Jacks in 3.1-ounce plastic bags.
Each bag, like a Cracker Jack box in previous decades, includes a prize hidden in the caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts.
“It’s great to see Cracker Jacks still with us at ballparks after more than a century,” said Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks radio play-by-play announcer Jack Michaels.