The quality of Cracker Jack prizes increasingly declined throughout the 1970s. Although some plastic prizes like spinners or magnifiers were included in the mix, the trend was towards cheaper paper-based or cardboard prizes. Also, in keeping with stricter child safety laws, gone were any prizes with tiny parts that children could swallow. By now, Cracker Jack prizes were mostly rectagular or square and there was a sameness to them. There was still variety and fun to be found with Cracker Jack prizes, but creativity was limited and had to fit within the box.
The Prize was Rectangular
In the 1970s, Cracker Jack gave away a large variety of prizes 1.25" by 1.75" in dimension. Prizes of this sort were typically miniature booklets and palm-sized games in assorted types and themes. In keeping with the past, Cracker Jack continued to release the prizes in series or sets to encourage collecting. The rectangular-shaped Cracker Jack prizes distributed during this decade included cardboard construction sets, tattoo booklets, joke and riddle mini books, iron-on patches and "magic slates" pads.
Among the most favored of these prizes were plastic pinball games and maze puzzles. Cracker Jack began producing the paper and plastic pinball game in the 1960s and continued to issue them throughout the 1970s. To play, you only had to pull back the tiny plastic arm or lever at the bottom of the game and, when you released the arm, it shot the plastic or metal ball into the small play area to score points. The games came with themes like Bo Peep or Money Tree or High Man and, while scoring was easy to figure out, Cracker Jack provided the instructions for play on the back.
The maze puzzle, while inferior in quality, offered a similar collecting opportunity as the pinball game as were there many variations. The general design of the maze puzzle was the same--each had a thin cardboard base with an eye-catching graphic and molded plastic affixed on top. Inside, there was one or more tiny balls usually made of plastic. The puzzle instructions were marked on the back of the card. There were different types of games, most required you to get the ball from the start position to the finish while others required you to get the balls to marked areas on the card.
The Prize was Square
Cracker Jack also released numerous square-shaped prizes in the 1970s. Most measured 1.25" by 1.25" but some were slightly larger like the plastic funny viewers. Again, Cracker Jack produced these prizes in sets and series, some in several series. Most of the square-shaped prizes were paper-based like cards or stickers, this included tilt or flicker cards, "magic" riddle cards, and stickers of all sorts--regular, shiny and glow-in the-dark.