Economic Tradeoff Analysis Of Cracker Jack Essay

Economic Trade-off Analysis Of Cracker Jack Essay, Research Paper

When I was little, Cracker Jack came in cardboard boxes, and

the prize inside was often pretty cool: a whistle or a ring,

or some similar gadget. This was also in the days when Oscar

Mayer gave away tiny hot-dog-shaped whistles as promotional

items. In those days, whistles were pretty popular. Slide

whistles were a very common favor at birthday parties.

I remember an older cousin came back from the army once, and

he had a really cool whistle that played several different

notes. It had come out of a box of cracker jacks.

My supplier in those days was my grandfather, who conveniently

owned a liquor store. My brother and sister played with

my cousins in canyons and caves made out of the corrugated

cardboard crates in the storeroom of beer and cigarettes. Of all

the goods in the store, the interesting ones were the freezer

(ice cream), the candy rack, and the magazines (Archie, Richie

Rich, The Avengers, Fantastic Four…). The comics must have

come from a Marvel distributor rather than DC, because Batman

and Superman were rarities; Spiderman was ubiquitous.

Cracker Jack was advertised as America’s favorite snack. There

were some drawbacks that were well-known to 10-year olds back

then. First, the pour spout was a fraud. “Push here to open” was

a lie. The box was not perforated there, and it was difficult if

not impossible for small fingers to puncture the cardboard. Far

more effective was to peel away the outer wrapper and slip open

the box at a seam. The other well-known bug was that all the

peanuts were always at the bottom. The problem with the peanuts

didn’t bother me, however, since I didn’t care much for them.

I was in the store the other day, and ran into America’s

favorite snack again. The product hung in four-ounce bags

near the bakery section of the supermarket. Bags of Cracker

Jack? The package coloring was the same, the logo was still a

boy in a sailor outfit accompanied by a dog: Sailor Jack and

Bingo. It was 99 cents, and there was a surprise inside. Didn’t

it used to specify a “toy” surprise inside?

I had known that for some time now, Cracker Jack did not come

with real toys; instead, today’s youngsters get tiny joke

books or stickers. No whistles or rings or anything that

might possibly present either a choking hazard or a potential

lawsuit. Besides, paper is a lot cheaper to manufacture than

plastic, so I’m sure the profit margins went up. Today’s prize,

once I opened up the the package, was a paper ring. A paper

ring? Now _that_ is a cheap toy.

The familiar packaging was gone too. The box with the false

“push here to open” has been replaced by a common mylar bag. The

taste of caramel coated popcorn, however, surprised me.

Back in the old days there was always a certain staleness

associated with Cracker Jack. It was just accepted, a known

limitation of the packaging and transportation technology of the

time. The old cardboard boxes were by no means airtight, and I’m

sure that distribution channels were slower than those common

today. Today’s Cracker Jack, packaged in airtight mylar are

crunchy and airy — the freshest Cracker Jack I’ve ever tasted.

Those of us who were born in the Sixties, then, are a privileged

generation. As an adult today, I care more about the freshness

of the popcorn than I would about the quality of the surprise

toy. Back when I was a kid, the toy was a pretty big deal,

and I would not have noticed if the popcorn had a stale edge

to it. We are among the fortunate to have lived long enough

to witness this profound transformation in Cracker Jack.

Juarez Jiu, 1999


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