Jacked Up Cracker Jacks

“It’s the seventh inning, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” just echoed through the park and you’ve decided, because you’re hungry or maybe just a sucker for good marketing, that nothing goes better with a stretch than a tiny box of American tradition. You flag down the vendor and ask kindly for some Cracker Jacks. You forget the fact that you’re hungry and, like many people who buy Cracker Jacks, forgo the popcorn and peanuts and dig down deep for the real reason this candied concoction is so beloved: the chintzy prize found inside.”

– Katie Mettler

Well, according to an article in the Washington Post, “Instead, you find a QR code, and realize not even Cracker Jack could escape those millennials. The nearly 125-year-old product has opted to replace its Prize Inside with a surprise more worthy of the 21st century. From now on, Cracker Jack consumers with find a QR code inside the small prize that links to four mobile, baseball-themed games.”

According to Haston Lewis, senior director of marketing at PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, “The new Prize Inside allows families to enjoy their favorite baseball moments through a new one-of-a-kind mobile experience, leveraging digital technology to bring the iconic Prize Inside to life.”

First, prize holders must download the Blippar app to their smartphone or tablet. They can then “boogie on a simulated jumbotron, participate in their own dot race (a 6th inning tradition of the Texas Rangers) and create their own baseball cards and autographed photos to trade with friends and family.”

But wait, that ain’t all folks…

In addition, there will be a new “contemporized” logo and packaging, apparently.

“We are a brand that authentically reminds people of simpler times, childhood memories and family experiences,” Lewis said.

Really? How so? How does changing the logo, packaging, and the prize remotely – “authentically” – remind me of my childhood memories? 

And, wanna bet they’ve also done something with the recipe that’ll change the iconic flavor of those delicious caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts?

I’ll never know, I’ll never buy a box again. No more hotdog and hamburger charms, little plastic animals, heart-shaped rings. Nor will my grandchildren ever know the joy of discovering a toy hidden inside a tasty snack.

Bummer, another bastion of Americana has been desecrated.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

– Bill


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