Jeffrey and Diane Maxwell were present at the Sixth Annual Convention of the Cracker Jack Collector's Association. Article to follow.
By Jeffrey Scott Maxwell
New pages have been in the works for the Cracker Jack Reference Section of the Alphabet26 Web Site for several months now. The concept of a Cracker Jack Dictionary has been a year in the works, and a glance at what is available will reveal that it has been quite time consuming. The Guide to Plastic Prizes from the 1940s and '50s has been as tedious, but it has been fun to put together the pictures for that one set at a time.
The Alphabet26 Dictionary of Cracker Jack Prize Collecting Terms has been set up mostly to utilize all of the great Cracker Jack content that has started appearing on the Web. A key to the Web pages referred to appears at the top, and links from one entry to a related entry are distinguishable from links to pages outside the Dictionary or the Alphabet26 web site by the "Links to See" designation.
The Alphabet26 Guide to Plastic Cracker Jack Prizes from the 1940s and '50s is an alphabetical (of course) directory of plastic prizes. The prizes of the early years of plastic will be added, then in later editions perhaps the 1960s and 1970s could be added to the site. This is by no means a complete collection of prizes from this time period. It is only a handful of the prizes that will eventually be pictured in the Alphabet26 site. Images can be found by subject from a list that is interlinked. For example, visitors can view the set that a particular prize comes from, and then by clicking on the subject of that prize, the viewer can then see all the prizes with that subject that have been loaded so far. There are many sets to add, but a few more sets will be completed each month.
These reference projects
are being treated as long-term projects, so there might be periods of lots
of changes followed by periods of no activity. Suggestions are certainly
welcome from Cracker Jack collectors, but the content of the site will be
solely determined by the Alphabet26 staff. The bulk of the content will be
geared toward whatever subjects are available on the Web, and what is best
suited to the presentation of Cracker Jack prizes on the Internet.
Alphabet26 will be presenting a display at the Sixth Annual Convention of the Cracker Jack Collectors Association (CJCA) to highlight the Web presence of Cracker Jack Collecting. Featured in the display will be the CJCA Web Site and Alphabet26, both with CJCA Member Jeffrey Maxwell as the webmaster, and the 1999-2000 Alphabet26 Award recipient The Cracker Jack Box, for which CJCA Member Jim Davis is the webmaster.
Printouts of pages from the
Web sites will displayed on the tables in books, and highlights from each
page will be diplayed on presentation boards on the table. All attendees
are invited to visit the CJ Web display at the convention in Dallas on Saturday
morning, June 17, 2000.
By Jeffrey Scott Maxwell
Digging up bones is not the only thing that some archaeologists are interested in doing. Dr. Paul Mullins is an Indiana University / Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI) professor who has spent a lot of time studying the past. But the historic cultures that this anthropologist "digs" are more likely to be those of Twentieth Century America. Studies of everything from society to race to popular culture have led him to teach about everything from Barbie to Elvis. He has made a popular subject of digging up stuff like Cracker Jack prizes in people's back yards.
An interesting item - a Cracker Jack prize from the 1930s - appeared on one of the IUPUI web pages describing finds in the institution's Ransom Place archaeological dig. The site located on a lot in Indianapolis's near-Westside has yielded thousands of items from arrowheads to beer cans to Cracker Jack prizes. And members of the Cracker Jack Collectors Association have even been contributors to their research.
The Cracker Jack prize found at the 800 Camp Street location is a "Silverine President Coin." According to the book Cracker Jack Prizes by CJCA Member Alex Jaramillo, these were available in packages of Cracker Jack from 1933 to 1936. There were 31 U.S. presidents in the set, and children would collect 10 (and later 5 or 3) to send in to The Cracker Jack Company to become members of the Cracker Jack Mystery Club. This was the biggest marketing campaign ever conducted by The Cracker Jack Company, and nearly a quarter-million children became members.
The First Annual Alphabet26 Cracker Jack Award goes to Jim Davis' Cracker Jack Box in recognition of the most significant online contribution to the Cracker Jack collecting hobby in 1999. The announcement was made in December, 1999, via e-mail to members of the Cracker Jack Collectors Association and other people associated with the hobby by Jeffrey Maxwell, owner and designer of the Alphabet26 Website. Representatives from the Alphabet26 Website will be present at the Sixth Annual CJCA Convention in June, 2000, to provide additional recognition for Davis and The Cracker Jack Box, while promoting other new developments in the Alphabet26 Website.
Open a "Cracker Jack Box" and what will you find? Jim Davis and a surprise in every corner. Davis created The Cracker Jack Box to develop his Internet design skills and to share his favorite collecting hobby with the world. He has been successful in both. Davis' Website is the best online collection of information about the prizes that have been found in packages of Cracker Jack over the past 100 years. After visiting the Featured Prize, visitors to The Cracker Jack Box will want to visit the Archives of all past featured prizes. The "Featured Prize" and the "Archives" were the biggest influence to the Alphabet26 staff to award the Internet's highest honor for Cracker Jack prize collecting information.
The Alphabet26 Cracker Jack Award, certain to become known as the "Alphie," is given based on the presentation and treatment of Cracker Jack prizes and collecting information on the Internet. Jeffrey Maxwell, the creator and promoter of the award presented The Alphabet26 Cracker Jack Award to promote the development of Cracker Jack websites and future exposure of Cracker Jack prizes on the Net.
"The prize is key here," said Maxwell. "While Frito-Lay's Cracker Jack website is a great promotional tool for the Cracker Jack Popcorn product and culture, and the CJCA gives exposure to all areas of Cracker Jack collecting - including packaging, advertising, and events, as well as prizes - Alphabet26 is all about the prize." Maxwell said, "I am very proud to have chosen The Cracker Jack Box as the first recipient of The Alphabet26 Cracker Jack Award."
When it was created in 1997 by Jeffrey Maxwell, the Alphabet26 website was the largest site on the web dedicated to collecting Cracker Jack prizes. The focus of the Alphabet26 site has always been the collection and sharing of information about prizes from Cracker Jack. The Cracker Jack Box, the website of the Cracker Jack Collectors Association (CJCA), and the official Cracker Jack site, posted by Frito-Lay, Inc. last year, are all outstanding examples of how the hobby of collecting Cracker Jack prizes is being presented on the Web. Alphabet26 is no longer the largest Cracker Jack website, but it is is proud to be in such company.
The Cracker Jack Box
can be found at
By Jeffrey Scott Maxwell
Planning for the Alphabet26 Web Site started in November 1997. Inspired by the Cracker Jack Collectors Association's (CJCA) plans for its own web site, I decided that it was time for our hobby to have even more representation on the web. A couple of collectors had web pages, or had included a Cracker Jack page on their site, but, at the time, there were no sites about Cracker Jack prizes. I opened my Alphabet26 site in the trail of the CJCA Site, and posted the first pages on November 26, 1997.
The Alphabet26 site started out as a general site of all the things I like, but I decided it was too general, so I went totally the other direction. Now some say it is somewhat esoteric. I have not met anyone else who specializes in plastic alphabet prizes, so that was much of the appeal for me. There are other things here that don't deal directly with alphabet prizes now, like information on vending machine charms or Cracker Jack prizes that were made by different companies, the Walco bead company charms, or even the links page where visitors can meet my Cracker Jack and charm collector friends. But the focus is still the alphabet prizes.
Naturally, my love for the Alphabet Animals sets was the beginning of the Alphabet26 Site. No other set of Cracker Jack prizes (or plastic prizes from any other source for that matter) has appealed to my common instinct for what is good. Most people who collect Cracker Jack prizes have seen numerous Alphabet Animals over years of collecting. That's why no one has ever paid much attention to them, because they are easy to collect. The range of colors alone is nothing less than fascinating to me. All of the various facets of Alphabet Animals I have found haven't even been discussed on this site. Only the items in which I thought a general collector of Cracker Jack prizes would be interested made it here. So if you collect these prizes, you might come back to visit these pages, because you will find things that you didn't see before once you've collected them for awhile.
I added the Alphabet Dangles next, because they are a cool set too, but they are not much to look at after you have stared at them for so many hours. They are also a little harder to collect. Alphabet Dangles are not as available as the Alphabet Animals, so there is slightly less collecting activity in this set of prizes. But they are great fun to collect when I can. Other Cracker Jack prizes and the gum machine charms were all added to help round out the site so that the subject of alphabet prizes would be well covered. Naturally, this is a work in progress, and there is more to be said and done in every area discussed on these pages. Anyone with ideas and suggestions for this site are welcomed to join in the fun. I love to talk about my hobbies.
The future holds good things for this site. I am working
on putting together a presentation on alphabet prizes for the June 2001 Cracker
Jack Collectors Association Convention if the Lord is willing, so many of
my preliminary plans for that are being worked out right here online. I
still have about 18 months to work on it, so I hope it will be something
from which everyone in the hobby will benefit. If you plan to attend
the convention that year, I will have handouts that will be available only
to collectors who attend the convention. Other plans for this site
will include my learning more about html and other tricks to help make this
website more appealing to visitors. Jim Davis' Cracker Jack Box has
been a real inspiration for me, and I know that Jim and I will
work together and challenge each other through our own and the CJCA
Website to make Cracker Jack collecting the best hobby online. I encourage
all Cracker Jack collectors to put together a website of their own. It
will be fun to see what I can develop here in the coming year. Visit