After Seeing that HUGE Cracker Jack’s Box I Had Some Big Dreams

Cracker Jack building 4800 W. 66th St. (66th & Cicero) in Bedford Park, 1958

I thought, “I’ll bet I could give Cracker Jacks to everybody in school.” That huge Cracker Jack box must have had me drooling at the thought of crawling through it to get at the prize and a mighty huge prize it would have been, a baseball glove, a Lincoln Logs set, or maybe even a bicycle. It was probably a newspaper or magazine article about the plant on Chicago’s southwest side, but it might have been a trip somewhere with my father that introduced me to that giant box and the dreams it conjured.

On the rare occasions, I bought a box of Cracker Jacks when I became an adult (your guess is as good as mine about when that might have been), had to have been because I wanted the taste of the sweetened popcorn and peanuts, not because I wanted the prize inside the box. By that time the prizes had become practically worthless, little more than pieces of cardboard with a picture on them. When I was a kid we wanted the Cracker Jacks as much for the popcorn candy as for the prize inside the box, usually miniature trinkets such as tiny cars, guns, horses or dogs. My favorite was a little pocket knife that didn’t cut much, but it was fun to imagine pulling it out of my boot (also imaginary because I didn’t wear boots) so I could surprise the bad guys.

“Mrs. Threadgoode pulled something out of the Cracker Jack box and all of a sudden her eyes lit up. “Oh Evelyn, look! Here’s my prize. It’s a little miniature chicken… just what I like!” and she held it out for her friend to see.” ― Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

I also treasured the peanuts. I developed ways to better enjoy my favorite sweets. I twisted Oreo cookies apart and ate the cream filling first, then let the chocolate cookies melt in my mouth one at a time. I peeled the chocolate top off a Hostess cupcake, then licked out the cream filling before eating the cake followed by small bites of the saved-for-later chocolate frosting. I carefully peeled off the thickest part of the chocolate coating of most candy bars to enjoy after I’d eaten the rest of the bar. Whenever my mother made a pie I ate the filling first, then enjoyed the crust. When she made a cake I ate the cake first, carefully removing it from the frosting.

Cracker Jack prizes 2After digging out the prize inside the Cracker Jack box I at the popcorn, but separated the peanuts and set them aside. I’d eat them after I’d melted each piece of popcorn in my mouth. I remember trying to dissolve the popcorn coating while leaving the popcorn itself intact. That never worked. All I ever had left were the shell or pericarp of the kernel, those little bits that get caught in your throat or between your teeth. I also never sucked the coating off the peanuts. The coating was just sweet and the peanuts were just peanuts, but together they were marvelous.

Cracker Jack was sold to the Borden Company in 1963 and the plant at 66th and Cicero was closed in 1986. The plant was eventually torn down. A TGI Fridays and a Courtyard Marriott now sit at that location. I wonder what happened to that giant Cracker Jack box, scrap metal probably.

“The More You Eat The More You Want” – Cracker Jacks Slogan

A couple of years ago I opened a box of Cracker Jacks. They tasted about the same, but there weren’t many peanuts and I didn’t set them aside. About the middle of the box, I found the prize. I was expecting a bit of trivia or a little paper puzzle I could fold. It was a puzzle of sorts, a digital computer code, which I threw away. I’m told needed an app to redeem the code, but it still wouldn’t lead to much of a prize.

Writing this has me thinking about that special flavor, but I’m not going to run out to get a bag of Cracker Jacks (yes, they’re now packaged in bags). I’m pretty sure I’ll be disappointed. They’ll still taste about the same, maybe there’ll be fewer peanuts to set aside and the prize won’t be worth bothering with, so maybe I should just pop some corn and make my own.

If you do buy some Cracker Jacks, here’s a little trick you might try. Next time you make caramel corn, just before you stir the popcorn and sticky stuff together toss in a bag’s worth of Cracker Jack’s. I don’t know how it will taste. I’ve never tried it myself, but it sounds like a good idea.


Sometimes I Tell Google to Surprise Me

Google has an interesting feature I use when I need a little inspiration or when I feel like looking for something, but I don’t know what I want to look for.

Open the Google search page and just click on the bar that says, “I’m Feeling Lucky.” Usually, I don’t enter anything into the search bar because usually when I do this I don’t have anything in mind to look for. I suppose you could enter something such as baseball or piano or waddle**.

You can either click on I’m Feeling Lucky or you can hover your cursor over the words and Google will give you another choice such as I’m feeling trendy or I’m Feeling Artistic or I’m Feeling Doodley.

“What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within the span of his little life by him who interests his heart in everything.” ― Laurence Sterne

For instance today I clicked on I’m Feeling Lucky and found this Google Arts and Culture page:

Roman aqueduct at Tarragona, SpainAs often happens I learned something new. In fact, I learned a couple new things. First I learned there is a city in Catalonia, Spain known a Tarragona which was once known as Tárraco, a Roman settlement, which was the site of Kesse, a native Iberian settlement that dated back to the 5th century B.C. The Romans showed up in 218 B.C. Tárraco was the first and the oldest Roman settlement on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain).

The second (or maybe it was the third) thing I learned is that Tárraco became the model for future Roman settlements because “The unique Roman plan of the town is exceptional, as it adapted to the configuration of the land by means of a series of artificial terraces, which are to be seen around the provincial forum as well as in the residential quarter.

The Roman town sat on a hill, with the primary government buildings at the top and on two terraces (created by the Romans) near the top. Among the ruins that remain are the defensive ramparts or walls, the provincial forum, some columns, an aqueduct, the circus, a theater, a couple villas, and an amphitheater built in the 2nd century A.D. There is also a triumphal arch because it wouldn’t be an ancient Roman town if it didn’t have a triumphal arch.

You’ll find Tárraco within and around Tarragona, which is about 100 km southwest of Barcelona.

**P.S. Sometimes the results are disappointing. An “I’m Feeling Lucky” search for waddle turned up a definition for the word.

Chickens or Ducks or Horsies or Chickens

My granddaughter and I have a lot of fun when we’re together. I have a number of running jokes I use with her. For instance, I try to use her name at least once in any story I read her. I also try to change something in the story. That way I know if she’s paying attention or if she hasn’t heard the story enough to have learned it in which case I slow down and ease back on my “reader’s theater” performance so she can better absorb the story rather than what grandpa is doing with it. On the other hand, if she reacts to the change and corrects me, then I know we can have more fun with the story and its characters.

One of my favorite running jokes is “chicken.” No, it’s not a game of nerves. It’s one where grandpa plays dumb in order to give granddaughter an opportunity to expand her knowledge of animals.

Whenever I see any animal whether it’s while we’re walking or riding in a car or sometimes while reading a book, I’ll say, “Look River, there’s a chicken!” Since she knows what a chicken looks like she’ll correct me and have a great time telling grandpa what it is and how she knows the horse is a horse or the heron is a bird and not a chicken. If I happen to see a chicken I’ll say, “Look River, horsie” or “there’s a duck,” both animals she is familiar with.

Because of that, I thought I’d already picked out her Christmas present for this year. I was planning to give her this turtle.
Chicken 1

Today, however, I saw another possibility so I’m in a bit a quandary do I get one or the other or perhaps both. Considering that she has soooo many toys and stuffed animals are things she’s going to be getting at least into her teen years, if I get both it seems I’ll be unnecessarily adding to her bedroom clutter. On the other hand would she one day better appreciate the humor of the horsie or should I instead get her this?

Right now, I don’t know what to do. Should I get the rooster or the ready to cook chickent with the moveable parts? The good thing is that I’ve got at least five months to decide.

Do the Chicago Cubs Have a Problem?

After 108 years the jinx was finally broken when the Cubs finally won the World Series, but now it’s looking like it was just a fluke. The stars aligned, luck was finally on their side, but in the end, they weren’t really that good a baseball team. At least that could be the interpretation based on the way they’re playing right now.

My favorite team, the White Sox are not very good this year, but they’re not supposed to be. They traded away two of their five best players and are ready to trade away more as they rebuild a team that has been mediocre, at best, for most of the last ten years. The White Sox are supposed to be one of the worst teams in baseball this year. However, right now they are far and away much better than the Cubs. Sure, the Cubs are four games better than the Sox, but the stats (see below) say the Sox are better, maybe it’s the competition. While the outlook is bleak for the Cubs, it would be even worse if they were in the American League.

They’re fortunate they’re in the Central Division where they’re in 2nd place two or three games behind Milwaukee. If they were in the National League’s West Division they’d be in 4th place, 9.5 games out of first. If they were in the American League West they’d also be in 4th, but they’d be 12 1/2 back.

Cubs fans are saying, “Not to worry, the season is still young, these guys will turn it around in time for the playoffs.”

Meanwhile, White Sox fans are saying, “We knew they weren’t that good… just lucky.”

chicago stats

How Much Would You Pay for This?

Here’s my question for today: How much would you pay for this? It’s a Cheeto. Just one, not the whole bag. It does have an unusual shape.Harambe Cheeto

Would you give someone $1 for it? Maybe $5 if someone else was going to buy it for a buck? Would you spend $100 for it? Can you imagine any scenario where someone would spend $500 for one Cheeto? It’s a Flaming Hot Cheeto, does that make a difference? 

“This item is one of a kind! It measures about 1 1/2 inches in length (it looks sooo much bigger in the picture),”

Well, would you believe me if I told you someone has offered $100,000 for this Cheeto?

Here’s the story:


Jogging – Day #3


Jogging map, results, and me
Jogging path, results, and me

I’ve now jogged three days in a row. Today was interesting because I really pushed myself the first leg and went to tenths of a mile before I stopped. However, every jogging/section after that was 11 tenths of a mile. It also wasn’t much easier today. Just like yesterday, it was okay until things started hurting. One thing to note: the leg on the left side of that red square is all uphill, not a steep uphill, gradual, but noticeable. That’s where the agony starts. Other than that I know my body is going to rebel for quite awhile partly because I am out of shape, but mostly because I am old and out of shape.


I will probably take tomorrow off because first of all, it seems like a good idea. I’ve built some days off into this and I expect to take more off here at the beginning than I expect to once I am jogging well. Also, it is supposed to rain tomorrow and I am not a trooper yet, at least not one who jogs even when it is raining…

Forgot to mention this. Yesterday I added another picture to my end-of-jog routine: a picture of some bit of the nearby scenery when I finish.

I was thinking of something…