Bad Idea of the Week: Caffeinated Cracker Jacks

In Cracker Jacks' latest line of snack foods, who knew the surprise inside would be 'a mildly addictive stimulant drug'?

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Frito Lay

In light of new reports linking 5-Hour Energy drinks to several recent deaths, sleep-deprived consumers may need to find another source of packaged vigor. PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay has an unlikely alternative: Cracker Jacks. The company is launching a new line of the sugary treats — aptly named “Cracker Jack’d” — that will contain caffeine, Advertising Age reports.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has previously battled such consumer products companies as MillerCoors Brewing Company and Airborne, claims the caffeinated Cracker Jacks violate federal food laws.

“Boxes of Cracker Jack are famous for having a toy surprise inside,” CSPI said in a Wednesday statement. “But what parent suspects that Cracker Jack might come with a surprising dose of a mildly addictive stimulant drug?”

CSPI warned that if the government doesn’t crack down on the upcoming Frito-Lay product, it could “set off a new craze in which manufacturers add caffeine to more and more varieties of foods and beverages.”

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CSPI wrote a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in which it argues that each package of “Cracker Jack’d” could contain the same amount of caffeine as a six-ounce cup of coffee—thus breaching an FDA rule stating that caffeine is “generally recognized as safe only in cola-type beverages and only at concentrations of 0.02 percent or less (about 72 mg per 12 oz.).”

In its letter, CSPI also criticizes Kraft’s MiO Energy drinks and Jelly Belly’s Extreme Sports Beans, as both products are caffeinated.

Two of the new Cracker Jack’d flavors, dubbed Power Bites, are made with coffee — “a natural source of caffeine,” a Frito-Lay spokesman told Ad Age — which will add up to an estimated 70 mg of caffeine in each 2 oz. pack.

“We stand by the safety of all products in the Cracker Jack’d line, including those that contain coffee,” the spokesman said. “It is worth pointing out the regulation referenced in CSPI’s letter to FDA speaks to caffeine—not coffee—and is not an exhaustive list of safe uses of caffeine in foods and beverages. Rather it represents one particular recognized safe use.”

(MORE: Mom and Consumer Group Sue McDonald’s For Luring Kids with Happy Meal Toys)

According to Ad Age, PepsiCo also received a letter from CSPI blasting its inclusion of the substance, which could cause “anxiety, restlessness, irritability, excitability and insomnia.” CSPI said caffeine is “totally inappropriate to be included in foods consumed by children.”

The Frito-Lay spokesman, however, told Ad Age that the Cracker Jack’d line was developed exclusively for adults and is not marketed to children. He added that the presence of coffee is marked clearly on the packaging.

Before calling out PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay, CSPI—which is often referred to as the “food police”—spearheaded controversial campaigns to impose soda taxes, ban trans fat and introduce menu labels that provide more nutritional information, the Hill notes.

The extension of the Cracker Jack’d line comes as part of Frito-Lay’s efforts to expand its “value brands,” according to Ad Age.
MORE: Are Energy Drinks Fatally Caffeinated?

53 comments
_MikeBudd
_MikeBudd

Seriously?? We never knew the world needed a caffeinated kids snack with a toy surprise in it, but here it comes!

Will they specifically target adults with a different packaging? Anyway, even if they change it, do you think that kids at home will look at it and say "OK, not for me"? I am sure that caffeine is fine in moderation, but for adults only:
http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com/ephedrine-where-to-buy-eca-stacks/coffee-a-true-wonder-drug

Kids are already consuming too much caffeine, for me this caffeinated Cracker Jack is another step in the wrong direction.

Disturbed
Disturbed

Can't wait to give this out next Hallowe'en

aNon_UserFriend
aNon_UserFriend

if kids start dying from the product its just gonna make them eat more of the shyt.

aNon_UserFriend
aNon_UserFriend

yeah just what we need everybody getting jacked up and jacked off. that sounds horrible.

alangerald66
alangerald66

cspi are a bunch of nutjobs,plain and simple.they are always complaining about products and claiming the worst.remember olestra?

AnthonyQuatroni
AnthonyQuatroni

Very smart. Let's create a product that raises the possibility of lawsuits. The first time some m0ron has a heart palpitation after eating this, they'll file a lawsuit quicker than you can say, "Cracker Jack."

WayneGage
WayneGage

Consumers will decide if this is a workable product. The government needs to keep hands off.

Disturbed
Disturbed

More than a caffeinated snack, I'm disturbed by the use of an apostrophe (and capital D) to effect a "past tense."

safetypro
safetypro

Wouldn't it be wonderful if people kept their heads where the sun shines? That "professional" journalists would do their jobs competently?

The writer of thsi article cose to NOT do her job. More often than not, people who attend baseball games, suffer from paroxysmal cranial rectal inversion.

What am I talking about? The name of the forever-present product Cracker Jack. Notice the correct spelling: "Jack," not "Jacks."

Amazing the writer of the article does not get this. Likely a degreed journalist, Ms. O'Connnor did such an inadequate job of research, she did not even document an accurate product name in her article.

Attendees of Baseball Games: simply read the label on the product, and say the product name correctly. The song does NOT say "buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks" - it says "Cracker Jack."

Inattention to detail - so common in our society. What a pity!

joshua.p.j.martin
joshua.p.j.martin

That's not a bad idea. You know what's a bad idea. Jack's Crack.

pinostabaum
pinostabaum

whenever you see some pseudo-science knee-jerk backlash against a consumer product and in favor of vigorous crackdown by the feds... you know CSPI is involved.

LelioRisen
LelioRisen

Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a buzz....

MomWizCom
MomWizCom

Caffeine is known to cause sleepiness in some children and rarely in adults, so the "wired" perception is not universal. Still it carries some effect for everyone who consumes it.   It would be inappropriate for adults to give children these snacks, just as it has always been inappropriate for children to be drinking coffee. What parents are thinking these days is beyond me, and advertisers should never target advertising for these products to kids.  The government shouldn't have to step in except perhaps to ban sales of products containing OTC drugs to people under a certain age - like alcohol and now marijuana in a growing number of states.   As it has been said many times, you can't cure stupid, but the wide availability and marketing for some of these things is just wrong.

QuietStormX
QuietStormX

Man, not everything is for children. The packaging has printed listings for Adults. Adults can do and consume what they want. I just saw the commercials the other night, it seemed interesting thow to maybe try for taste. The Food police should try the things they rail against first. Retailers shoulden't be selling adult products like this.

RachaelHarven
RachaelHarven

I will discourage my wife and son from consuming this product. 

twistedpuppet
twistedpuppet

Hey people complaining that kids may eat this product, I pose this question:  What happened to parents  monitoring what their kids eat?  Or more simply: What happened to parents DOING THEIR JOB?????

HenryMiller
HenryMiller

"CSPI warned that if the government doesn’t crack down on the upcoming Frito-Lay product..."

Has the CSPI somehow concluded that Americans have become incapable of reading ingredient labels?  Or are too dumb to make their own decision on what to eat?

We don't need more bloody government interference in our lives; these people need to learn to mind their own businesses.

lolarites
lolarites

When sugar and salt and a piece of cheap plastic is not enough.

cnnhack
cnnhack

Am I the only person who thought this was about blacks based on the headline?

coeusdarksoul
coeusdarksoul

I like it when major corporations find a way to re-institute Natural Selection. If they're stupid enough to take themselves out of the breeding pool, then we probably don't want them wading in there in the first place... Rate we're going Idiocracy is becoming a documentary, not a fictional yarn... 

vethraxx
vethraxx

Getting people addicted to your product so they buy it. They must have learned all their tricks from the cigarette companies. Seeing how there are so many caffeine free soda on the market, they have to do something with it. Like put it cracker jacks... I imagine orange juice is next.

woodin59
woodin59

I don't need caffeinated snacks and NOW I don't need Frito-Lay products either.  Would anybody expect anything less from a junk food company?

Just_Sayin'
Just_Sayin'

It's Cracker Jack, NOT Cracker JackS.  C'mon, CNN, you're better than that!!

ferral_khat
ferral_khat

Just wondering what the limits are before consumers not only reject the product, but the company as well.

Marihweaties ? Porn flakes?  Rice Crackspies?

AKFourtySeven
AKFourtySeven

LITTLE KIDS EAT THIS STUFF. THIS IS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!

TimMaynard
TimMaynard

Ha! The original idea was "Now contains REAL CRACK!!!"

MichealBlauser
MichealBlauser

I thought this was a joke, are u kiddin me!  I'l stick with good'ol Folgers Coffee : )

RobertSF
RobertSF

This is a dumb idea that Fritolay is making possible only because it has so much money. The Shark Tank investors panned an entrepreneur who was pitching "energy" waffles. Yes, waffles you were supposed to buy at 7-11 that had caffeine and the rest of the stuff you find in energy drinks. They laughed at him, and the waffles didn't even taste good.

TheInsomniac
TheInsomniac

This is a really stupid idea. Stop chemically altering food. Isn't throwing some carmel and nuts on popcorn good enough, why do we have to add chemicals that make it simultaneously addictive and dangerous?

aNon_UserFriend
aNon_UserFriend

@AnthonyQuatroni ya i'm sure a lawsuit is going to stop this billion dollar cracker jack corporation. they'll take a dozen lawsuits and laugh all the way to the bank.

WayneGage
WayneGage

@AnthonyQuatroni There are plenty of high caffeine products on the market and you did not create this product. Frivolous lawsuits are a big problem in the US where no one wants to be accountable for their actions.

aNon_UserFriend
aNon_UserFriend

@Just_Sayin' that's the most dumbass thing i've ever read. uve never said the word cracker jacks? u live in a pinecone?

safetypro
safetypro

@aNon_UserFriend @safetypro

Ahh, but the differences are what make the world go 'round - true?

Having reviewed your multiple posts, sir or madam, it is apparent you are a part of the problem - not the solution.

Certainly the differences are what makes the world go 'round - yes?

Freedom of speech is your friend, indeed.

safetypro
safetypro

@aNon_UserFriend @Just_Sayin' 

No - "Just_Sayin'" is merely one of the citizens of the world who actually places value in clear, accurate communication. If only more people would take effective communication seriously - our world would be a far beter place.

TheInsomniac
TheInsomniac

@eabarth @TheInsomniac "Made with coffee" does not mean that they contain coffee. The amount of caffeine in 2 oz of this "food" is about the same as a 12 oz soda. That means a pretty heavily concentrated dose of caffeine in a pretty small snack bag. They surely aren't just packing these with coffee beans, which would be kind of disgusting. They are likely extracting caffeine from coffee and adding it to the snack food.

safetypro
safetypro

@claudia @aNon_UserFriend @RachaelHarven 

"claudia"- the blatherings of "a Non_UserFriend" are just that. Let us celebrate the freedom each has in posting on such threads - regardless of position and composition.   He/She appears to be a lost soul.