Friday, December 19, 2014

How I Messed Up With the 1993 Cracker Jack Cards

In 1991 Cracker Jack worked out an arrangement with Topps to put mini cards as prizes in their boxes.  According to this article, the promotion was a huge success.  Over 135 million boxes were sold (which helps explain why I had to pay only 18¢ per card).

So what does Cracker Jack do the next year?

The go to Donruss instead of Topps for the cards.  And sales tanked, dropping from 135 million to 60 million boxes.  The move was made to reduce costs, but I'm thinking that the extra sales with Topps would have covered the extra expense.

In 1993, Cracker Jack looked to slash expenses even further.  They saved a cool half million bucks by dropping their license with the players.  How do you make baseball cards without the players, you might ask?

By using cards you already own the rights to.

Cracker Jack made reprints of their 1915-1916 set.  Sure, it saved money.  But would kids be interested in cards of players that were older than their great-grandparents?


Sales dropped another 10 million boxes.

Cracker Jack got out of the baseball card business.

And how did this lead to me messing up?

Well, the 1993 checklist had 24 players.  I scanned the list and saw Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Mordecai Brown, all Cubs Hall of Famers..  I bought the cards immediately.

And then smacked myself when I got them in hand.

Duh,,,the set was from 1915 and none of these guys were with the Cubs any longer.

In fact, none of the 24 on the checklist were Cubs.

I goofed.  I spent 54¢ that I shouldn't have.

But Cracker Jack goofed just a bit more....135 million boxes to 50 million boxes would cost the company a little more than 54¢.


  1. I'd still throw the Tinker in the binder; at least his says "Chicago" on the front. I always get confused with those early Chicago baseball teams and which ones actually were/became the present day Cubs.

  2. They didn't get any less of my money for the changes in license. I still bought tons of Cracker Jack (they had those 24-box cases they started selling around then) to get the cards. Now, Cracker Jack are all guaranteed to be completely stale by the time you open the box, so I wouldn't be surprised if they were selling in the single digit millions, now. It tastes like they overproduced the snack back in the 1990s and are still filling boxes with that same batch today.

  3. I remember the 1991 Topps and 1992 Donruss Cracker Jacks... but have never seen these before. Might need to track down a set if the price is right.