Cracker Jack ushers in a new ballgame with Cracker Jill packaging

Dive Brief:

  • Cracker Jack unveiled a line of limited-edition bags featuring Cracker Jill, a new character meant to celebrate women who break barriers throughout sports, according to details shared with Marketing Dive. The bags will be available in ballparks across the country on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day (April 7). The special snacks will also be available with a $5 donation to the Women’s Sport Foundation.
  • To honor the new character, the Frito-Lay brand teamed with musician Normani to remix the classic tune, “Take Me Out to The Ballgame,” in a way that celebrates inspirational women.
  • Cracker Jack’s campaign leans into the rising popularity of women’s sports and may help to boost the 126-year-old snack’s image as a socially conscious brand.

Dive Insight:

Normani’s rendition of “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” changes the line, “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks,” to “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jills,” and ends with, “it’s a new ball game.” The song reflects the changing sports landscape and how Cracker Jack is determined to change alongside it. The limited-edition Cracker Jill packaging marks the first time that there has been a variation on the Cracker Jack mascot, according to Tina Mahal, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay North America.

Women’s sports have been steadily growing in popularity in recent years, especially as niche viewing options like ad-supported streaming expand. But despite the increase in popularity, women’s sports still face significant barriers, such as a lack of exposure and unequal pay.

Cracker Jack has long been associated with baseball, first launching in 1896 at Chicago World’s Fair. Despite being sold in stores across the country, a large portion of its sales comes from sports venues, solidifying its place as a baseball game staple. Cracker Jack sales have remained relatively stable even as ballpark food moves beyond beer and hot dogs into more adventurous or healthy food.

“What we started to notice is that in the world of sports, the rules have really started to change,” said Mahal. “And so there’s this massive transformation taking place. Throughout sports, girls and women are really changing the face of the game.” 

With much of its sales coming from sports venues, the Frito-Lay brand is now hoping to expand its association with baseball. The five new bags — created by Monica Ahanon — for the Cracker Jill effort were designed to reflect the demographics of the U.S., each bag depicting a woman wearing the iconic Cracker Jack sailor uniform, with Bingo the dog at their feet. The move makes the company look aware of the diversity of sports fans, while a $200,000 donation to the Women’s Sports Foundation may help to build some goodwill.

“What we’re trying to do with Cracker Jill is is bring to life representation of women across sports. That doesn’t link to just baseball. It really is celebrating women that are athletes, executives, women that now have this seat at the table within sports, and that is really what Cracker Jill is is meant to do,” said Mahal.