Wednesday, May 27, 2009


In my bedroom at my parents' house (and if I were there, I'd be holding it now) is a small blue plastic bookmark with an owl on it. It's one of the kind that is like a money clip, meant to clip a section of pages. I don't think I ever actually used it as a bookmark, but it was a treasure. I found it in a Cracker Jack box.

Who remembers with me when Cracker Jack prizes were neat or fun little toys? I mean, I like baseball as much as the next fan of a perpetually losing team (I shouldn't say that, there was a game-winning grand slam on Sunday, after all), and I understand that baseball and Cracker Jacks are forever entwined, but I remember when Cracker Jack prizes were good.

Now, they're pieces of paper. Sure, there were pieces of paper before (baseball cards, anyone?), but there were also durable, plastic toys that could actually serve a fun purpose. I still have that bookmark, more than twenty years later, it was the best Cracker Jack prize I ever got. Now, I get a glossy piece of paper with a team logo on it. Whoop-de-friggin-do.

I lament that they stopped putting plastic rings in Cracker Jack boxes long before I ever found one. Even now, every now and then, I'll buy a three-pack of Cracker Jacks and hope they've gone back to actually putting toys in the boxes like they used to. They haven't. The Cracker Jack, while still yummy, has lost the magic that many urban legends are built upon. Children today will never know the joy of opening that little package and finding something wonderful, like a blue plastic bookmark with an owl on it. Or a plastic ring. And they won't understand the pop culture references that haven't died down even though such things are no such things anymore. Sad times.

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