Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Cracker Jack Co.
Cracker Jack Co.

Cracker Jack Co.

Cracker Jack Co. Plant, 1958
F. W. Rueckheim emigrated from Germany to Chicago in 1869. In 1872, Rueckheim and his brother Louis formed F. W. Rueckheim & Bro., a small candy and popcorn shop. Business grew steadily, and by the 1880s the brothers had relocated to a three-story plant on South Clinton Street. In 1896, the company began to sell its caramel-coated popcorn under the “Cracker Jack” brand name, a name that would be made famous by Jack Norworth's 1908 song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” In 1912, when the company employed about 450 women and girls and 250 men and boys at its large new factory on South Peoria and Harrison Streets, it began to insert small toys into the packages with the popcorn. This “prize in every box” marketing strategy proved successful. In 1922, the name of the company, which made marshmallows and candies as well as its signature popcorn product, became Cracker Jack Co. During the 1950s, the company employed over 1,000 Chicago-area residents. During the last decades of the twentieth century, Cracker Jack was purchased by a number of large international food companies. After being held for many years by Borden Foods Inc., the Cracker Jack brand was purchased in 1997 by the Frito Lay division of Pepsico, the food giant based in Purchase, New York.