Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cracker Jack Sucks

We went to Wal-Mart yesterday to pick up many necessaries, such as mushrooms, carrot chips, a tomato, bananas, Cheerios, a few yogurts, and two cases of bottled water.

On the way to the register down that long, long walkway that divides the food aisles from everything else, Meridith spotted a three-pack of Cracker Jack and grabbed one. One for her, and one each for Mom and Dad.

Comes "American Idol", or about an hour into it by the time we start watching it on the Tivo, and Meridith brings out a box for her and a box for Mom.

I don't remember eating a lot of Cracker Jack when I was a kid. I was more into Bazooka bubble gum and the exploits of Bazooka Joe in the comic that was wrapped around the gum.

But weren't the Cracker Jack prizes better back then, or probably even before the time I emerged? I don't expect them to be pricey; I know they're cheap. But a square of paper that you fold along the triangular dotted lines to create a talking crab? Some dumb riddle? What about a comic just like the gum has (or had?)? There's a website called "Cracker Jack Prize Archives" (, and the prizes displayed are infinitely better than what they are today.

I know that technology has become far more advanced than when Cracker Jack came on the market, and that there's little hope that what could be included in a Cracker Jack box as a prize could actually surprise someone. Unless it's a tiny iPad, who cares? But that's not my thinking. There's less and less opportunity for genuine surprises in the world today. More and more, cereal boxes have links to games online instead of actual toys inside. Just for one moment, how about anticipation? And something better than a paper talking crab?