A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 22, 2009
Cracker Jack (Crackerjack)

Cracker Jack is the famous product with, as the jingle has it, “candy-coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize.” Coated popcorn (with sugar and/or molasses) is cited from at least 1888. Frederick William Rueckheim sold “candied popcorn and peanuts” at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair; in 1896, the Chicago product was sold with the then-slang name of “Cracker Jack.”

“Cracker Jack” was the nickname of a criminal in the 1870s. From at least 1888, “crackerjack” was a term applied to a fast horse. The term “crackerjack” was soon applied to a fast bicycle rider, a good baseball player and anything excellent or superior. Although the product name “Cracker Jack” is trademarked, “cracker jack” or “crackerjack” cannot be protected for all uses.

The baseball song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (a Tin Pan Alley classic from 1908) contains the lyric “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.”


Wikipedia: Crack Jack
Cracker Jack is a U.S. brand of snack consisting of caramel-coated popcorn (caramel corn} and peanuts. It is also well known for being packaged with a “Toy Surprise Inside” of nominal value.

History
1893: Frederick William Rueckheim (known to friends and family as “Fritz") and his brother Louis mass produce Cracker Jack and sell it at the first Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. At the time, it was a mixture of popcorn, molasses, and peanuts and was called “Candied Popcorn and Peanuts”.

1896: Rueckheim devises a way to keep the popcorn kernels separate. As each batch was mixed in a cement-mixer-like drum, a small quantity of oil was added—a closely-guarded trade secret. Before this change, the mixture had been difficult to handle as it stuck together in chunks. In 1896, the first lot of Cracker Jack was produced. It was named by an enthusiastic sampler who remarked, “That’s a Cracker Jack!”

1899: Henry Gottlieb Eckstein developed the “waxed sealed package” for freshness, known then as the “Eckstein Triple Proof Package,” a dust,germ and moisture proof paper package. In 1902, the company was re-organized; Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein.

1912: Prizes included in Cracker Jack boxes for the first time. In recent years, the toy and trinket prizes have been replaced with paper prizes displaying riddles and jokes. These attained pop-culture status with the term “came in a Cracker Jack box” referring to an object of limited value.

1918: Mascots Sailor Jack and his dog, Bingo, are introduced (though they were not registered as trademark logos until 1919.

1964: The Cracker Jack Company is purchased by Borden after a bidding war between Borden and Frito-Lay.

1997: Borden sells the brand to Frito-Lay.

Wikipedia; Take Me Out to the Ball Game
“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is an early-20th century Tin Pan Alley song which became the unofficial anthem of baseball although neither of its authors had attended a game prior to writing the song. The song is traditionally sung during the seventh-inning stretch of a baseball game, in spite of being written from the perspective of someone not at a game. Fans are encouraged to sing along.

History of the song
The words were written in 1908 by Jack Norworth, who while riding a subway train, was inspired by a sign that said “Baseball Today — Polo Grounds”. The words were set to music by Albert Von Tilzer, (Norworth and Von Tilzer finally saw their first Major League Baseball games 32 and 20 years later, respectively). The song was first sung by Norworth’s wife Nora Bayes and popularized by various vaudeville acts. Norworth wrote an alternative version of the song in 1927. (Norworth and Bayes were famous for writing and performing such smash hits as “Shine On, Harvest Moon.").
(...)
[Chorus]
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me 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.

(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
crackerjack n. [cf. CRACKER, n.] an individual of superior excellence or ability, esp. one who is expert or skillful; (occ.) a thing of excellence.
1895 in F. Remington Sel. Letters 272: You are a crackajack.
1895 in OEDS: he got a crackerjack when he bought that horse...As a pitcher he’s a crackerjack.
1895 Dialect Notes 1 415: Crackerjack...A person of remarkable ability.
(...)
crackerjack adj. of marked excellence; first-rate; splendid.
1899 Ade Fable 60: Gabby Will, the Crackerjack Salesman.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
crackerjack, n. and a.
colloq. (orig. U.S.).
A. n.
1. Something that is exceptionally fine or splendid. Also, a person who is exceptionally skilful or expert.
1895 W. C. GORE in Inlander Nov. 62 He got a crackerjack when he bought that horse. Ibid., As a pitcher he’s a crackerjack.
1896 N.Y. Herald 2 Apr. 7/4 There are so many crackajacks in the lot that..some good men will have to..wait for a chance.
1897 Outing (U.S.) XXIX. 481/1 The old-fashioned dogs were heavier and slower than the latter-day crack-a-jack.
1898 Boston Globe 16 Aug. 7/3 This regiment is a crackerjack.
1909 ‘O. HENRY’ Roads of Destiny iii. 51 If the story was a cracker-jack he had Mesrour, the executioner, whack off his head.
1925 WODEHOUSE Carry on, Jeeves! ii. 45, I couldn’t be expected to foresee that the scheme, in itself a cracker-jack, would skid into the ditch as it had done.
1927 H. A. VACHELL Dew of Sea 262 The McCullough who was out with Prince Charlie in ‘45 challenged attention. ‘Looks a crackerjack,’ said Miss Angell.
1933 J. BUCHAN Prince of Captivity 219 I’ve got a crackerjack of an editor.
1963 Listener 14 Feb. 301/3 Our hero-worship of these crackerjacks in their leathers and goggles knew no moderation.
2. (Proprietary term.) A sweetmeat composed chiefly of popcorn and syrup. U.S.
1902 Sears, Roebuck Catal. 20/3 Cracker Jack… Price, per case of 100 packages 2.85.
1905 R. BEACH Pardners (1912) i. 31, I bought a dollar’s worth of everything, from cracker-jack to cantaloupe.
1947 E. W. BARKINS Dr. has Baby 131 She dangled a red balloon, ate popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

B. adj. Exceptionally fine or good; of marked excellence or ability.
1910 O. JOHNSON Varmint iii. 43 Say, by the way, look outhe’s a crackerjack boxer.
1911 R. D. SAUNDERS Col. Todhunter ix. 123 You’ve given me a cracker-jack talk on Missouri politics.
1920 C. H. STAGG High Speed vi, It was a crackajack piece of work for a chauffeur.
1956 Times 1 Aug., A highly mobile, well-equipped, crack-a-jack, small Regular Army.
1966 Punch 19 Jan. 101/3 These seventy-odd pieces of crackerjack journalism begin with Walter Lippmann’s putting Mr. Rockefeller in the witness stand sometime in 1915.

6 October 1870, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, pg. 3, col. 4:
Chicago has lately seen an Indian half-breed who played at billiards so well, that he beat even “Cracker Jack,” “Pete Snyder,” and other billiard sharps.

10 October 1879, Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), pg. 5, col. 6:
Bloomingtin Ill. Oct. 9—Deputy Sheriff Cook arrived from Kansas City this morning with Jack McKern, alias “Cracker Jack,” who was recently indicted for highway robbery.

15 October 1884, St, Louis (MO) Globe-Democrat, pg. 6, col. 6:
Jack McKern, a noted rough, known as “Cracker Jack,” was sentenced to one tear in the Penitentiary for burglary.

10 April 1888, Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), part 1, pg. 3:
...and Beersheba, a “crackerjack” chestnut colt.

23 April 1888, New York (NY) Times, pg. 8:
...Charles Miller has four (horses—ed.), two of them being 2-year-olds he expects will become “Cracker Jacks.”

2 September 1888, Inter Ocean (CHicago, IL), “Celestials on the Diamond,” pg. 12, col. 1:
Then came the slugger, the shot-stop (sic), Wung Fung. He would get eighth money in a field of nine ordinary, corner-lot, street-gamins, as a batsman, but he was a “cracker jack” in this class.”

7 December 1888, Marshall (MI) Daily Chronicle, pg. 1, col. 3:
SUGAR COATED popcorn balls are made by stirring the corn, either ground or whole, in boiling sirup composed of half a cupful of white sugar and six teaspoonsfuls of water to every quart of corn. When cool it is moulded into balls and rolled in pulverized sugar. In some cases sugar or molasses taffy is substituted for the plain sirup. The whole popcorn is stirred into it, and then, when fit to mould, made into balls with buttered hands to prevent sticking.

Chronicling America
8 January 1889, New York (NY) Sun, pg. 3, col. 2:
The Columbian Athletic Club of Washington will be represented at the coming meeting of the Union by S. J. King, W. E. Crist, J. B. Elder, and other Cracker Jacks.

8 October 1893, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, “Neptune Club’s Outing,” pg. 2:
...come back to the club house victorious on time allowances, beating some cracker jacks.

14 August 1895, Logansport (IN) Daily Reporter, pg. 6, col. 2:
“A Cracker Jack” is a southwestern expression and means unusually good or exceedingly clever. It is said to fit the play of that name to a dot.
(The play A Cracker Jack, by Hubert H. Winslow, is described in column 3—ed.)

Chronicling America
18 April 1896, San Francisco (CA) Call, pg. 2, cols. 1-2:
If one of them should go under that, he declared, he would be a “cracker-jack.” For the benefit of the uninitiated it may be explained that a “cracker jack” is a world’s record breaker, a term commonly applied in bicycle racing.

16 May 1896, Springfield (MA) Republican, pg. 14 ad: 
“Cracker Jack,” a new molasses covered pop-corn, 5c a box.

23 October 1896, Morning Herald (KY), pg. 8:
HOW TO MAKE CRACKER-JACK.
Popcorn and Molasses Prepared
at Home Like That Sold in the
Stores.

Long before anyone thought of selling the candy that increases your appetite rather than satisfies it, a little Southern girl thought out the recipe for herself. She was very fond of popcorn, also of molasses candy, and it occurred to her that it would not be a bad plan to mix them. There was an old hunting dog in the family who had the same tastes, and when his mistress went into the kitchen to make her favorite delicacy, he went too, and sat near the stove with his great eyes fixed wistfully upon her and his mouth fairly dropping water as he smelled the good, rich smell. he always got a generous share of the candy as soon as it was done. This is the way that little girl made it then, and the way she makes it now for her own children, who like it as well as she did.

The corn she always preferred, if she could get it, was the squirrel-tooth corn, and, if possible, that which was a year old. She shelled and popped the corn, sometimes in a popper, but often in a tin pan with a pie plate for a cover. By shaking the pan as soon as the corn get hots, the corn will pop as well in this fashion as in a regular popper. After the corn was popped she set an iron skillet on the fire, with a cupful of molasses, a piece of butter the size of a walnut, and a saltspoonful of salt in it, and cooked the mixture until, ion dropping a little into a cup of cold water, it would candy. Then she set it on the back of the stove, where it would not cook any more, and stirred into it just as much of the popped corn as she possibly could. The more corn the better the candy. Then she would take up the pieces of corn on the top of the skillet, which had the least candy on them, and pat them into cakes or roll them into balls. Next, she would stir in more popcorn and repeat the process, and so on, until she had used up all the candy. She would set the cakes in a buttered dish away to cool, and afterword she and the dog would have a feast.

5 December 1896, Logansport (IN) Pharos, pg. 8, col. 1:
Cracker jack only 13c pound at Foley’s.

Chronicling America
1 April 1897, Houston (TX) Daily Post, pg. 8, col. 1 ad:
“Cracker Jack” (Popcorn); the more you eat, the more you want; try it.

Google Books
April 1897, Kansas University Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 2, “Dialect Word-List - No. 4” by W. H. Carruth and Paul Wilkinson, pg. 86:
crackerjack: an expert.—General.

Google Books
Mrs. Owens’ New Cook Book and Complete Household Manual
By Mrs. Frances E. Owens
Chicago, IL: Owens’ Publishing Company
1899 (copyright 1897)
Pg. 683:
CRACKER JACK.—Miss Mary M. Wilson, Chicago.—Buy 1 pound pop corn and pop it. For the candy take 2 cups molasses, 1 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon butter, pinch salt. Cook until it will harden in water, then stir in a pinch of soda and take it off and pour it hot over the popped corn. It is better to have two persons at work, one popping the corn and one attending to the candy, as it is better when the corn is hot.

Google Books
December 1901, Good Housekeeping, pg. 532, col. 2:
Cracker Jack
Two cups of sugar, one cup of molasses, one tablespoon of butter and two of vinegar; boil until the mixture snaps in cold water, then take from the fire and add half a teaspoon of soda; stir briskly and pour over the popped corn; stir thoroughly. Add peanuts with the corn if nut cracker jack is wanted.

Google Books
January 1905, The Boston Cooking School Magazine, pg. 324, col. 2:
Cracker Jack
Melt two cups of granualted sugar in a saucepan, stirring all the time, to keep it from scorching. WHen the sugar is all melted, and has become a dark-looking syrup, add to it a generous tablespoonful of molasses and a piece of butter the size of an egg. have ready some popped corn, and, after placing it in a wide, shallow pan, pour the mixture over it, evenly distributing it so that every bit of the popcorn is covered. Set away to harden, and then strike the bottom of the pan vigorously with a knife handle, and the cracker jack will break up into irregular pieces.

After popping a quantity of corn, place it in a pan, and set in the oven about ten minutes, and it will make the corn crisp and tender, improving the flavor. Especially should this be done, whenever the corn is to be eaten without making it into a confection.

Google Books
Needlework Guild Cook Book
Compiled and arranged by The Needlework Guild
of the First Presbyterian Church
Jamestown, NY: Journal Printing Company
1907
Pg. 295:
Cracker Jack.
1 cupful molasses, scant 1/2 cupful water, 1 scant tablespoonful butter, 1 even tespoonful salt. Boil until it hardens when dropped in cold water; then pour in popcorn and stir. Put on plate and pat down to thickness of 1 kernel.  Mrs. Edward Mackey.

Google Books
The Mendelssohn Club Cook Book
Compiled by
The Active Members
Rockford, Illinois
1909
Pg. 250:
Cracker Jack.
Pop the corn, and after removing all the hard and unpopped kernels, pour into a deep boel. Add some nut kernels. Boil until the syrup cracks in cold water; 1 cupful of molasses, 2 cupfuls of sugar; 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 tablespoons of vinegar; take from the fire, add 1/2 teaspoonful of soda, beat briskly and pour over popped corn and chopped peanuts. THis is enough syrup for 3 quarts of popped corn.

Confectionery Trade-Marks
Compiled by Mida’s Trade-mark Bureau, Chicago
Chicago, IL: The Criterion Publishing Co.
1910
Pg. 26:
*Cracker Jack...Popcorn...F. W. Rueckheim & Bro....Chicago, Ill.

Google Books
Things To Know About Trade-Marks:
A Manual of Trade-Mark Information

Published by
J. Walter Thompson Company
New York, NY
1911
Pg. 11:
Some trade-marks are words which have a natural affinity for the language, and they slide into common speech as easily as a cupful of water melts into the ocean.

A notable instance of this is “Cracker Jack.” This word has become an integral part of our common language, and is used to mean a hustler, a thing of excellence, a fellow who gets there, a machine that runs smoothly, a well-played game, and in other senses. But it is probable that not one person in a hundred who uses this word knows that it is a registered trade-mark, and that it is a name applied to a mixture of popcorn and peanuts, combined with molasses, or some other sweetening. It is a delicious concoction, as any reader of this book may ascertain for himself.

The owners of Cracker Jack have not advertised. They have allowed the immense asset of their trade-mark—a byword on the tongues of millions—to go to waste.

Google Books
Candies and Bonbons and How to Make Them
By Marion Harris Neil
Philadelphia, PA: David McKay, Publisher
1913
Pp. 222-223:
CRACKER JACK NO. 1
6 quarts popped corn
1/2 pint (1 cup) molasses
1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoonful baking soda
1 tablespoonful hot water

Pop the corn, free it from any hard kernels, and place it in a large buttered pan.

Boil the molasses and suger to 290 degrees, or till the mixture snaps in cold water; then add the soda dissolved in the water. Let it foam up, and pour it over the corn, stirring constantly so that each grain may be coated.

Pack firmly in tins.

Google Books
The American Cook Book:
Recipes for everyday use

By Janet McKenzie Hill
Boston, MA: THe Boston Cooking-School Magazine Co.
1914
Pg. 244:
Cracker Jack
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoonfuls molasses
2 tablespoonfuls butter
About two quarts of popped corn

Stir and cook the sugar to caramel, add the molasses and butter. Have the corn in a wide shallow pan; pour the candy over it to cover the corn. Set away to harden, then break into irregular shaped pieces.

(Trademark)
Word Mark CRACKER JACK
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: CANDIED POPCORN. FIRST USE: 19060100. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19060100
Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM
Serial Number 71017984
Filing Date March 17, 1906
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0066414
Registration Date November 26, 1907
Owner (REGISTRANT) RUECKHEIM BROS. AND ECKSTEIN CORPORATION WEST VIRGINIA HARRISON AND PEORIA STREETS CHICAGO ILLINOIS
(LAST LISTED OWNER) FRITO-LAY NORTH AMERICA, INC. CORPORATION DELAWARE 7701 LEGACY DRIVE LAW DEPARTMENT PLANO TEXAS 75024
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Joseph J. Ferretti
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 12C. SECT 15. SECTION 8(10-YR) 20070515.
Renewal 5TH RENEWAL 20070515
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (1) Comments • Thursday, January 22, 2009 • Permalink


why doesn’t cracker jack sell the buttery flavor anymore? It was my favorite flavor.

Posted by Barbara Richmond  on  08/18  at  05:24 PM

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