It’s quite easy to put together a collection of Cracker Jack prizes. I often see them among piles of junk at antique markets, and there is always an assortment available on internet auction sites.
Many end up in trash piles, get washed down drains or tossed on the fire, but thousands and thousands, if not millions of these cheap little toys were produced, so no dealer can honestly tell you that they are rare. That said, prices are anywhere from a dollar to over a hundred dollars for a single charm.
What draws me to these little guys is their cartoon-like simplicity… and they never fail to provide inspiration when working on assignments. This boxing Kangaroo is one of my favorites.
Cracker Jack started adding prizes to their candy in 1912. Early charms are made from metal, glass or celluloid. They were produced all over the world: Japan, USA, Czechoslovakia, etc…
Not all the charms in my collection are from Cracker Jack. Kobe charms are harder to find. I found this little bundle at the Alemany Flea Market in San Francisco for five bucks. Kobe charms were made in Kobe, Japan in the early half of the 20th century. These ordinarily came attached to other products or came in cigar boxes and were also sold in candy-ball machines. Kobe charms usually have red or brown faces and pop-out eyes that slide in and out.