Baseball lovers know the flavor, the crunch, the stickiness on their fingers. They also know the letdown of finding that the prize at the bottom of the box is a plastic ring or a cardboard cutout of a player they don't root for.
In a move sure to inspire thousands of "when I was your age" parent-to-child soliloquies, Cracker Jack announced it will be replacing its traditional toy prizes with codes that trigger augmented reality games--or, as Cracker Jack calls them, "baseball inspired mobile digital experiences." Using a phone to scan a sticker found in the box will launch four mini games that you can use on your device.
The activities let you--or presumably, someone much younger than you--do things like turn your photo into a baseball card or make a fool of yourself on a jumbotron Dance Cam. Of course, you'll have to download an app first, called Blippar.
It's a big change for a brand popular enough to appear in the lyrics of the only song besides the National Anthem to be sung at every baseball game. In fact, Cracker Jack has been a staple at ballgames since before "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was written in 1908.
The change is likely a move by Frito-Lay, which owns Cracker Jack, to keep the food relevant among younger fans. Sales have remained steady for the 120-year-old snack in recent years. (The most recent revenue figure was pegged at $51 million in 2014 but that excluded ball-park sales.) But the beloved gametime fare, once one of few stadium offerings along with hot dogs and peanuts, now has to compete with peanut butter pretzel-covered bacon and tater tot waffles with Coke-infused ketchup.
The forward-looking prizes will inevitably shake fans of baseball, one of America's most tradition-obsessed pastimes, to their core. But let's be honest: Unless you're a Mets fan, the Cracker Jack prize has always been one of the most disappointing parts of attending a baseball game.
Cracker Jack, acquired by Frito-Lay in 1997, represents less than 1 percent of its parent company's sales. Along with the prize change, Cracker Jack introduced a (slightly) less cartoonish new logo.