I’m sure everyone remember Cracker Jacks the delicious candied pop corn and peanut treat with “a prize in every box.” They were quite a hit when I was a kid and are still popular with both kids and adults today. Part of their appeal was that little prize inside each box. In addition to getting a great tasting product and a mild sugar rush, you also got a small surprise. Early on the little prizes were pretty cool, some were intricate and very detailed. Some were like mini-models that had to put together and actually did something. You never knew what to expect. You might find anything from transferable tattoos, baseball cards, games, whistles or puzzles to small compasses, badges, pins, magic tricks or even decoder rings. Today’s prizes pale by comparison they are junk! There is no variety. They are all made of paper and usually consist of very small card printed with a joke or riddle. Some great prizes huh? They may as well have no prize at all.
Cracker Jacks’s were first introduced back in 1893. They were so good that the tasty molasses flavored treats even found their way into the hearts of baseball fans everywhere when C J’s were immortalized more than a hundred years ago with the line “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks,” in the baseball classic “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,”the unofficial anthem of baseball, traditionally sung during the 7th inning stretch of baseball games. Yeah good old Cracker Jacks are part of the nations culture.
Well here’s a surprise. Frito Lay Inc who purchased Cracker Jacks back in 1997 is about to bring Cracker Jacks into the 21st century. Frito has already made small changes to Cracker Jacks. The packaging still remains about the same with its familiar reds and whites, and sailor Jack and his dog remain on the label, but Frito has added a Frito Lay emblem on the front of the box and no longer call C J’s “candied popcorn and peanuts,” choosing to now refer to them now as “caramel coated popcorn and peanuts” on the label. They have also added a wider variety of sizes and packaging styles.
Now Frito has decided to extend the Cracker Jack line and are releasing a new pepped up version called “Cracker Jack’d” and when I say ‘pepped up’ I mean pepped up! The new line of C J’s will include flavors like Cheddar Barbecue, PB & Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Spicy Pizzeria and last but certainly not least, Power Bites in Cocoa Java flavor or regular. In keeping with the Cracker Jack tradition at least one of these new versions will have a little surprise inside. And just what might that surprise be my friends? How about some good old, ‘get your motor running’ caffeine! Yep, a buzz – I mean a prize in every box.
It seems Cracker Jacks is joining the ranks of many soft drinks and snack foods on the market today designed to give you a little added energy boost. Cracker Jack’d Power Bites will each contain about 70 mg of caffeine from coffee per package. Do we really need yet another product containing small doses of a mildly addictive stimulant drug that has known side-effects and is easy for our kids to get a hold of. Hell No!
But Frito says that Power Bites were developed for adult consumption and will not be marketed to children. They also say the amount of caffeine is well within the limits set by the Food and Drug Administration. Okay, That’s all well and good, but what is going to keep these stimulating goodies out of children’s hands. They still look like a candy snack and will appeal to kids most likely teens who will quickly realize the ‘lift’ these sweet delights can bring. And you know kids, if one is good, two or three are better.
I see no way that we’re going to keep this product out of the hands of children. I don’t care if the entire Power Bites ad campaign is geared towards adults. Kids will get a hold of them you can count on it. Will Power Bite sales be monitored like cigarettes or alcohol? Obviously not. Will Power Bites be kept behind the counter like cigarettes or locked up like spray paint and glue? Highly unlikely. No they will be accessible to all. I just can’t image the guy at the local 7-11 or corner grocery store checking ID’s for a couple of packs of Power Bites can you? Like that would ever happen.
Stimulant packed snacks just doesn’t seem to be the right direction for Frito-Lay to be going, but then they’ve pretty much cornered the market on fats with their extensive line of chips why not enter this new, stimulating market? I’ll tell you why not, because caffeine is a drug albeit a mild one perhaps, but still a drug and it can be addicting. It has no place in a food snack especially one that has been marketed to kids for over a hundred years. There are potential risk for children consuming these treats, things like anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and excitability to name a few. Come on, you’ve seen those coffee junkies huddled around the coffee pot waiting for their morning fix. Do our kids need that? No way.
Caffeine as we all know can also cause insomnia. We all know what kids are like when they haven’t gotten enough sleep. Obviously Frito-Lay cares little about our concerns. It’s all about turning a profit and if they can get a piece of this new stimulant market it means more money for them. Maybe they could find a way to tie in the old one liner from the Lays Potato Chip commercials of old, it is quite appropriate. “Bet you cant eat just one.”