Who's Who in Cracker Jack History

Learn about famous people in Cracker Jack history

We've compiled a list of people associated with Cracker Jack throughout the last century. From its owners to those that helped make it famous, here's our list of top contributors.

Frederick "Fritz" William Rueckheim, also known as F.W. Rueckheim, was born in Japenzin, Germany on April 18, 1846. He died at the age of 90 on January 2, 1937 in Chicago, Illinois. F.W. Rueckheim was the driving force behind the Cracker Jack brand. In 1871, he invested $200 (unadjusted dollars) of his savings in a popcorn stand shortly after the Chicago Fire. From that popcorn stand, he would grow a family business that became The Cracker Jack Company in 1922 and would continue to flourish for decades after.  For more on Fritz, check out the Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present. This website offers a fairly complete summary of Fritz's life including the issues he encountered with anti-German hysteria during World War I.

Louis Rueckheim, Fritz's brother, born September 30, 1849 and died October 15, 1927. With Fritz, he grew The Cracker Jack Company through inovations in brand marketing and snack food development. Frederick was responsible for strategy and marketing while Louis handled manufacturing and production. According to Wikipedia, it was Louis that discovered a method to keep the early version of Cracker Jack confectionary from sticking together. The "secret" was adding oil into the drums that mixed the popcorn and peanuts with the sweetened molasses coating. Prior to this, the early Cracker Jack snack came in sticky clumps that stuck to the wooden tubs that were used to distribute the product. This change produced a more attractive product that didn't stick to fingers or the container that it came in.

Henry Gottlieb Eckstein (1860-1935). In 1899, he developed the "waxed sealed package," known then as the "Eckstein Triple Proof Package." This innovation gave Cracker Jack a "dust-, germ-, and moisture-proof paper package" that enabled the mass distribution of their snack confectionary. Prior to this enhancement, Cracker Jack was distributed in wooden tubs and would have a short shelf-life. In 1902, the Rueckheims reorganized their family-owned company to include Eckstein. At the time, the business became known as Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein. Eckstein died on April 11, 1935 at the age of 75. When he died, his estate was valued at $1.5 M (unadjusted dollars) with nearly half attributed to The Cracker Jack Company stock.

Robert Rueckheim, born September 26, 1913 and died on December 20, 1920. He was Fritz's grandson, the son of Edwin or Edward Rueckheim (the name depends on the source), one of Fritz's sons. According to Cracker Jack lore, Robert was the inspiration for Sailor Jack, as in Sailor Jack and Bingo, the Cracker Jack mascots since about 1916. Supposedly, the model for Bingo was Gottleib's dog, a stray he adopted. Sadly, the story on Robert is that he died of pneumonia when he was 8 years old. Today, the brand still retains the mascots though Sailor Jack and Bingo's look has changed over time.

Claude Carey Cloud, better known as C. Carey Cloud, born March. 12, 1899 and died November 9, 1984. To many, he was regarded as the "year round Santa Claus." He was an artist, inventor and toymaker who created toys and premiums for Cracker Jack and other companies. From the late 1930s through the 1960s, he developed and produced hundreds of Cracker Jack prizes from paper dolls to miniature figures to plastic squeeze toys. Some of the most memorable and collected Cracker Jack prizes today are those that were invented by C. Carey Cloud. 

Jack Gilford appeared in Cracker Jack commercials from 1960 until 1972. He was known for his "rubber-faced" expression and though he was active on film, television, and stage, he is remembered by many for his Cracker Jack adverts. For more on Jack Gilford, click here.