Baseball season is in full swing and if someone takes you out to a ball game, you'll likely ask them to buy you some peanuts and Cracker Jack. (Not Cracker Jacks, of course, because there's no such thing). Before you place your order, listen to Dan explore the intricacies of these classic foods with three experts:
- Nile Brisson is a third generation peanut man and president of Peanut Processors, Inc. in North Carolina. He uses his teeth to crack the shells open and says that once you've eaten the nut, unsalted shells make a great addition to your garden soil. (He also explains how they get the salt inside the shells in the first place.
- Mike Pesca looks at the history of the song "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in a classic "On The Media" piece, and tries to put a dollar value on the free advertising that the song has given to Cracker Jack over the decades.
- Ted Berg, USA Today sports writer and former food vendor at Shea Stadium, talks about why pre-wrapping hot dogs instead of putting them in the buns in the seats improves sales, and tells the story of some hot dog-related friction with a Yankee fan.
Ted and Dan also cover vital issues like Cracker Jack prizes and the ideal popcorn-to-peanut ratio in a handful of Cracker Jack.
“I’m going to tell you right now," Ted says, digging through a bag of Cracker Jack, "No matter how many peanuts there are in here, there are not enough. Look at this handful. How many peanuts are in here? Zero peanuts. It’s all popcorn. And we all know that’s how Cracker Jack is pulling one over on us. Because popcorn is practically free, and peanuts are expensive.”
But while Dan suspects Cracker Jack used to have more peanuts, Ted has a philosophical point of view.
“You may be right, but I also would be concerned that that’s maybe a little bit of us getting older and the world getting a little sadder, and we notice fewer peanuts.”
NOTE: The Sporkful reached out to Frito Lay. They said that, since purchasing Cracker Jack in 1997, they have not reduced the peanut-to-popcorn ratio. In fact, they said that last year they began adding more peanuts. They can't comment, however, on whether the ratio was altered between Dan's childhood in the 1980s and 1997.