Page 1 of 1

Why do CJ boxes show up so often in early twentieth c photos

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:56 am
by LGoddard
I've got a question for the CJ experts here. There are so many wonderful photographs -- many posted here -- from the early 20th century of people posed with Cracker Jack boxes. Does anyone know how this tradition started? Was it simply happenstance -- CJ was plentifully available in places where people might be likely to pose for a photo (e.g. at family picnic gatherings, in photographers' studios)? Or was there some sort of contest that maybe inspired the trend? Or was it just one of those things that some people started doing (what's cuter than a kid posed with Cracker Jack) and then it snowballed? Anyone know or willing to speculate?

Re: Why do CJ boxes show up so often in early twentieth c ph

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:28 am
by Stewart Callner
Consider this, from the Digital History website:

For many groups of Americans, the prosperity of the 1920s was a cruel illusion. Even during the most prosperous years of the Roaring Twenties, most families lived below what contemporaries defined as the poverty line. In 1929, economists considered $2,500 the income necessary to support a family. In that year, more than 60 percent of the nation's families earned less than $2,000 a year--the income necessary for basic necessities--and over 40 percent earned less than $1,500 annually.

That was before the depression, when things got even worse. My point is that a nickel for a box of Cracker Jack was a lot of money for most people in the 20's and 30's; for many, spent only on special occasions like family gatherings and picnics.
Photography was not an everyday (or inexpensive) occurrence then either, but cameras would come out at family gatherings and picnics.
Combine this with the lack of variety of treat/snacks like Cracker Jack at the time, compared to what's available today, and the result is a lot of photos of kids with their Cracker Jack boxes.
We are fortunate that so many of these fragile photographs actually survived, to find their way into the hands of CJ collectors.

Re: Why do CJ boxes show up so often in early twentieth c ph

Posted: Sat May 26, 2012 8:39 pm
by lreyver
i have seen some of these very old photos and i agree that Cracker Jack was very popular those days thus i have seen it a lot of times. maybe it was some sort of status symbol to be able to buy one as was mentioned those days it was really hard times for a lot of people and being able to have money to spnd on a CJ then one must really be blessed an it had become a fad i guess. We are really lucky to see these very antique photos nowadays.