Cracker Jack started its "prize in every box" promotion on this day in history, Feb. 19, 1912.

German immigrant F.W. Rueckheim first invented the now-ubiquitous ballpark treat in the late 19th century. 

It was initially sold at his small candy and popcorn shop, F. W. Rueckheim & Bro., says the website SnackHistory.com. 

The caramel-coated popcorn made its official debut at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, notes the website.  

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Three years after that, Rueckheim began to market the snack as "Cracker Jack," the Encyclopedia of Chicago pointed out. 

It would take nearly a decade before another innovation would further boost the product's popularity. 

Cracker Jack Box candy popcorn

A German immigrant named F. W. Rueckheim invented Cracker Jack in the late 19th century and sold it at his popcorn and candy shop.? (AP Newsroom)

By 1912, F. W. Rueckheim & Bro. employed some 700 people at its Chicago factory, notes the Encyclopedia of Chicago. 

It was on Feb. 19 of that year that someone came up with the idea to put a small "prize" in each box as a promotion — and sales boomed. 

Previously, prizes or coupons were only included in random boxes, said the Cracker Jack appreciation website known as The Art is Cracker Jack. 

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The "prize in every box" strategy worked.

Cracker Jack has given away about 17 billion toys in over a century, said The Art is Cracker Jack site. 

"Cracker Jack wasn't the first company to use free premiums to promote its product. As its longevity has proven, it just did it better," said the site. 

Cracker Jack Box prize

Cracker Jack began including toys and coupons in random boxes before deciding to put a "prize in every box" on this day in history, Feb. 19, 1912. (AP Newsroom)

Ten years after the debut of "prize in every box" promotion, the company's name was officially changed to "The Cracker Jack Co."  

The first prizes in Cracker Jack boxes were largely made of paper, metal or wood — and were mixed in with the food product, The Art is Cracker Jack website says. 

Cracker Jack "wisely started issuing certain prizes in a set or series."

"It wasn't until decades later in 1948 that Cracker Jack began distributing prizes wrapped waxed paper," said the site. 

In an appeal to collectors — and to boost sales — Cracker Jack "wisely started issuing certain prizes in a set or series," according to The Art is Cracker Jack.

Cracker Jack Box

Initially, toys and prizes in Cracker Jack boxes were unwrapped and mixed in among the food product.? (AP Newsroom)

"The Cracker Jack slogan may have been ‘The more you eat, the more you want,’ but for Cracker Jack prize hoarders the slogan may as well have been ‘The more you collect, the more you want to collect,'" said the website. 

In 1946, Cracker Jack began distributing plastic prizes in its boxes, thanks in part to "Innovations in the injection molded plastic process," said The Art is Cracker Jack. 

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These innovations "enabled the mass production of inexpensive items, opening a new era for the Cracker Jack prize."

The Cracker Jack Co. was sold to Borden Inc. in 1964. 

The "arcade" features classic games, including a version of Connect Four.?

Then, in 1997, Frito-Lay Inc. purchased Cracker Jack. 

Nineteen years later, the "prize" inside a Cracker Jack box or bag was replaced by an app, "ending an era," says The Art is Cracker Jack. 

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Today, purchasers of Cracker Jack will find a sticker granting them access to the online "Prize Inside Arcade" on the Cracker Jack website. 

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The "arcade" features classic games, including a version of Connect Four. 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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