Cracker Jack toys made headlines this week

What are the chances of finding a plastic compass in your Cracker Jack box, as Matthew McConaughey does in Contact? You’d sooner hear alien signals over your cell phone. Sure, there was a time when the surprises were of the cool, plastic variety, but ”by the ’80s and ’90s they were almost all exclusively paper,” says Roberta Bowen, editor of The Prize Insider, a newsletter for Cracker Jack toy collectors. But don’t give up. ”We did have compasses back in the ’20s and ’30s,” says Jill Sweeney of Cracker Jack maker Borden, noting that the compass in Contact was custom-made. ”But that’s not to say we might not have compasses in the future.” That’s a step in the right direction.

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