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Cracker Jack Collectors Association History & Lore

It all began when a German immigrant named Frederick William Rueckheim started selling popcorn that was made by hand method with steam machinery, on 113 Fourth Avenue in Chicago, now known as Federal Street.

Frederick William Rueckheim

According to legend, a unique popcorn, peanuts and molasses confection that was the forerunner to Cracker Jack caramel coated popcorn and peanuts is introduced by F.W. Rueckheim and Brother, at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago's first World's Fair.

Chicago Worlds Fair 1893

Louis Rueckheim, F.W.'s brother and partner, discovered the process for keeping the molasses-covered popcorn morsels from sticking together.

Got it's name Cracker Jack from a salesman who exclaimed "That's a crackerjack!", which at that time meant fantastic.

Their slogan "The more you eat, the more you want" was also copyrighted that year.

Louis Rueckheim

Henry Gottlieb Eckstein developed the "waxed sealed package" for freshness, known as "Eckstein Triple Proof Package."

Eckstein.JPG (16477 bytes)

The company was reorganized as Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein.

Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein

The song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", written by lyricist Jack Norworth and composer Albert Von Tilzer, gave Cracker Jack free publicity with the line, "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack!"


"A Prize in Every Box" is introduced when toys are inserted into every package.

A Prize Inside Every Box

A new plant for manking Cracker Jack was opened in Brooklyn, NY.


Mascots Sailor Jack and Bingo introduced. Sailor Jack was modeled after F.W. Rueckheim's grandson Robert. Sailor Jack's dog Bingo was based on a real-life dog named Russell, a stray adopted in 1917 by Henry Eckstein who demanded that the dog be used on the packaging.

Sailor Jack and Bingo

Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein was renamed The Cracker Jack Co.

The Cracker Jack Company

Supplyied field rations for the Allies during World War II. In 1943 and 1944, the company received three awards from the Army and Navy, including one for high achievement in the production of materials needed by our armed forces.

K Rations

Columbus, Ohio-based Borden, Inc. purchases the Cracker Jack Company. It becomes the Cracker Jack division of Borden, Inc.


Automated, high-speed, continuous cooking machinery replaces the metal tubs in which Cracker Jack was batch-coated.

Cracker Jack Factory

Borden celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cracker Jack.

Cracker Jack 100 Years

Frito Lay purchases Cracker Jack brand from Borden.

Frito Lay

Cracker Jack celebrates 100 years of "A Prize in Every Box."

Prize in every box 100th Anniversary

Frito Lay celebrates the 120th anniversary of Cracker Jack.

120th Anniversary

CJCA - Cracker Jack Collectors Association