Rueckheim, Frederick William

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Frederick William Rueckheim, a German immigrant, invented a molasses covered popcorn, which after the Great Chicago Fire, he sold from a successful popcorn stand in downtown Chicago.

With his brother, Louis, Frederick sold an early version of Cracker Jack, originally a mixture of popcorn, molasses, and peanuts, at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 (The name was given to the treat by an enthusiastic customer who remarked 'That’s crackerjack,' an expression meaning 'first rate.') Prizes were included in every box starting in 1912.

Frederick’s grandson, Robert Rueckheim (1913-1921), the son of Edwin Lewis Rueckheim and Christian Muno’s daughter, Dorothy Catherine, was used as the model for Sailor Jack, one of the most iconic images in American food, a little boy in a sailor suit with his dog Bingo at his side that has appeared on Cracker Jack™ boxes since 1918.

Sadly, Robert died of pneumonia at the age of eight shortly after his image appeared on the box and he was interred in his maternal grandparent’s plot in St. Henry's Cemetery. His image acquired such meaning for the founders that it was included on his tombstone in St. Henry's Cemetery.

Six months later, Robert's father, Edwin, died. Clara remarried the same year.