Is it or isn't Cracker Jack? That is the question. While not all prizes that are Cracker Jack are easily identified as such, a large number of Cracker Jack prizes are, luckily, marked clearly with the brand name.
Cracker Jack by Any Other Name May Still Be Cracker Jack
For over a century, Cracker Jack distributed prizes in it boxes of confectionary popcorn goodness. Many of the items were clearly identified with some form of marking or branding, but a fair number of prizes or toys were not marked at all. Since Cracker Jack procured it's prizes and toys from different sources, there is a lack of consistent markings to identify all items as Cracker Jack. In the early years, paper and lithographed tin or sheet metal prizes had some form or Cracker Jack branding, however, many of the pot metal or wooden prizes were not marked. During the middle of the 20th century when plastic was king, Cracker Jack or other toy manufacturer branding was molded on the small plastic figures and toys. This practice of branding plastic and paper prizes continued after Borden acquired Cracker Jack in 1964. By this time, all prizes that were included in Cracker Jack boxes were marked as Cracker Jack or some combination of Cracker Jack and Borden branding.
Following are the different markings that identify Cracker Jack, the brand name is represented in various ways including:
- F.W. Rueckheim & Bro. or Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein (the original owners of Cracker Jack)
- CRACKER JACK
- C.J. CO.
- The C.J. Co.
- The Cracker Jack Co.
- Cracker Jack Division, Borden Foods (found on Cracker Jack prizes made between 1964 and 1997 when Borden Inc. owned Cracker Jack)
- Angelus Marshmallows (a confectionary brand owned and operated by Rueckham and Bros., the owners of Cracker Jack)
Additionally, Cracker Jack worked with outside toy manufacturers to procure prizes. Companies that supplied Cracker Jack prizes include:
- Tootsie Toy
- NOSCO (stands for National Organ Supply Company)
- Dowst Manufacturing Company
- C. Carey Cloud under the names (Cloud and Cloudrest)
- Sterling Plastics (marking appears as a "SP" in a circle)
They Call it Cracker Jack or "Crackerjacks" But It's Not
The key to learning about Cracker Jack is learning about Cracker Jack. In other words, the more you research and collect, the more you know. The best Cracker Jack resources for researching Cracker Jack is Larry White's Cracker Jack Toys: The Complete, Unofficial Guide for Collectors as well as online sites like eBay.
On eBay, take care on what is being presented as Cracker Jack because not every small item presented as Cracker Jack or "crackerjacks" is a Cracker Jack prize. They may be game tokens, gumball or dime store prizes, or other premiums (cereal, fast food, or other products). The term "crackerjacks" seems to have become a "catch-all" category for small items. Regardless of this disparity, eBay remains a good place to research Cracker Jack prizes as it is searchable.