"" Writer's Wanderings: Buy Me Some Peanuts And Cracker Jack

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Buy Me Some Peanuts And Cracker Jack

Peanuts were growing in the US in the 1800s but were mainly used for oil and fodder for animals. As a food for consumption, it was considered a poor man's food--that is until the Civil War. The peanut was discovered as a convenient snack for the troops on both sides. Eventually the roasted peanut became a popular snack sold on street corners, at the circus and then baseball games.

With the more recent growth in peanut allergies, some ball parks actually have peanut-free areas where families can enjoy the game without the worry of peanut dust in the air. FYI, Americans consume more than 600 million pounds of peanuts a year.

While popcorn has been around for thousands of years it wasn't until 1893 when a couple of popcorn makers, Federick and Louis Rueckheim, decided to add a twist to the same old, same old. They began experimenting with adding molasses and peanuts to the popcorn and created a sweet/salty mix. In 1893 they introduced it at the World's Fair in Chicago. One of the people who tasted it said it was "crackerjack," a slang term of the times that meant "awesome." The name stuck.

The Rueckheims discovered a method of keeping the coated popcorn from sticking together which, it is said, is secret to this day.

The first Cracker Jack box to have a prize in it appeared in 1912. Since then more than 23 billion prizes have been found in the delicious mix. Some of the vintage prizes have been valued at $7,000. Wish I had kept some of those. By the way, July 5 is Cracker Jack Day!

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