I was recently contemplating the past, something I find myself doing more and more as I get older, when the thought of something exciting returned from my childhood.
Yes, we still see Cracker Jacks today on the shelves of our grocery stores. Now mostly in bags, not boxes. Shiny mylar bags with high definition pictures of the molasses candy covered popcorn and peanuts contained within. Even the familiar Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo graces the bag. Not much has changed from what I remember from my youth.
One thing, however, is missing. Well, more than one thing, but one thing stands out more than any of the others. It is called Discovery.
Growing up in a poor family with seven other siblings, it was not a common occurrence when we had the luxury of receiving a box of Cracker Jacks.
As I recall, the boxes Cracker Jacks were packaged in, were particularly difficult to break into.
First there was the outer covering of the box. It was composed of a very fine layer that was printed with pictures of the familiar candy, the picture of Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo, and the red and white banner clearly displaying the Cracker Jacks logo.
Then there was the box that was composed of thin cardboard infused with some kind of wax substance that was near impenetrable.
But the coups de gras was the blue circle with the words printed in bold white “Surprise Inside”.
We would tear into the box with utter abandon. Sometimes with the help of a pocket knife or one side of a pair of scissors.
We would explore for a weakness in the defenses created by that packaging. Once discovered, we would tear open the top of the box, careful not to spill any of the precious candy, probing for the small envelope that contained that toy treasure.
What would it be? A decoder ring, by which we might intercept a secret message from a Russian spy and save the whole of the United States, if not the world, from certain destruction. Would it be a whistle that would mysteriously disappear at night after a day of chasing my sisters around the house blowing it in their ears. Maybe, a plastic figure of a soldier or a baseball player, which we would imagine was in honor of our prowess on the field of battle or the ball field.
Each box was seemingly different and always new, to us.
The discovery of a prize inside was just the beginning. It continued as our minds were opened to the myriad of possibilities contained in our imaginations.
Today the “Surprise Inside” has been replaced with paper prizes displaying riddles and jokes. Many times pointing the finder to a web page or iPhone app where creativity is kept tightly wrapped in a box with impenetrable wax like coating.
Fathers, we need to become a modern day Sailor Jack with his dog Bingo for our children. Not by sitting down our six year old with an iPad, but by interacting with them in play aimed at opening that box and the door to discovery.
Where is that “Surprise Inside”?
En Servicio Como Padre
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/hermanturnip/3331692605/”>hermanturnip</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/magicdaddy/3494295581/”>CoreyHarris</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/aibakker/458487885/”>AIBakker</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
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