Cracker Jacks

I bought a box of Cracker Jacks this week and opened it slowly, looking for the treasure that was advertised in bright blue writing inside a POP-kind of starburst. This sweet treat is one of my favorite non-diet foods, a stand-alone yummy with a good mix of peanuts, caramel-flavored popcorn and some mystery flavor—one I have yet to distinguish—that makes it undeniably good. (It’s probably a good thing that I don’t know what else is in them.) And don’t forget! You also get a prize. The prizes are less appealing than they once were, but nevertheless intriguing. They used to contain magic rings or snappy puzzles or real-life toys, like tin soldiers, cars, and airplanes. Of course, that has changed from when I was a kid, but even still who could possibly be disappointed with a cartoon tattoo that doesn’t stick or a mystery game without directions? With every box, I still find myself hopeful that this one time I will get the much sought-after gold ring that sometimes makes its way into a box in a million. No matter what’s inside, though, Cracker Jacks are their own reward.


I did a book signing today and on the way home, I got to thinking about the cracker-jack people I know, and my mind strayed to why some people are cracker jack and others not. The boy on the Cracker Jack box is an energetic little sailor with a dog who hasn’t aged in 120 years, which might be a good reason to eat Cracker Jacks.


Cracker jack people are the same, sweet and crunchy, meaning they have substance, and offer surprises. My favorite cracker jack people enjoy life as it comes to them, never complaining, accepting the bumps and grinds of aging as part of their life, in fact with gusto, saying, “Bring it on, I got this.” They are sweet, happy to be where they are in life, whether they are rich or poor, healthy or not so healthy, 55 or 75 or 92. Some of the happiest people I know are in their nineties, and I hope I can be like they are when I grow up. And they are always full of surprises!


There is a reason Cracker Jacks have been around for 120 years. They are solid. When you buy a box, you know what you get. And cracker jack people are the same. Solid. A sweet treat. Always with a surprise. If you haven’t bought a box of Cracker Jacks recently, rush to your favorite dollar store and make the sweet purchase. Three boxes for a buck. And remember, it’s more fun to be a sweet cracker jack than it is to be a sour complainer. And you never know, that gold ring might magically appear!


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