Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cooking and Cracker Jack

Today's interview was with John Donahue, writer for The New Yorker editor of "A MAN WITH A PAN: CULINARY ADVENTURES OF FATHERS WHO COOK FOR THEIR FAMILIES". John does most of the cooking for his wife and two daughters. He's always had a passion for food (because he loves to eat!) and his interest grew right after his daughter was born. It seemed he was spending more time in the kitchen and now he does the cooking, the prep, the menu and grocery planning and really enjoys all of aspects of cooking for his family. His book features 34 men; their favorite recipes as well as their stories, adventures and advice.

The book is not just about food; but about our changing families and lifestyles. It is also delicious entertainment for the "kitchen stool cook" as well as being an invaluable resource for new and seasoned home chefs.

Did you know that it was on this day in 1983 when "Cracker Jack" was first introduced at the Chicago World's Fair? Frederick Rucekheim and his brother Louis sold it as "Candied Popcorn and Peanuts". After they figured out a way to keep it from sticking together (a carefully guarded secret), they renamed their product after one sampler exclaimed, "That's crackerjack!", -which at the time was a colloquialism meaning "of excellent quality".

They got free publicity after the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was released in 1908 and beginning in 1912, a prize was included in every box.

Do you remember the prizes? Animals, toys, puzzles... The ones I always hoped to find were the circus wagons with a different animal in each one. I would line them up in my bedroom. Wonder whatever happened to my collection? Wonder if it would be worth anything today? I did look on line and found out that some Cracker Jack prizes are valued at more than $7000 today! Don't look for any prizes in Cracker Jack today-now you just get a paper prize with either a riddle or joke.

Some people think "Cracker Jack" was the very first junk food. What do you think? And what was your favorite Cracker Jack prize?

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