If you have ever enjoyed a box of Cracker Jacks you may recall that each box includes some kind of semi-excellent prize. I quickly learned that those trinkets, along with the peanuts, usually settled to the bottom of the box during shipping. Thus, by opening it from the bottom rather than the top, I was saved from having to eat my way down to the prize and, of course, the peanuts.

As you might expect, the anticipation of discovering the nature of the surprise in there, which might include anything from a pretty neat decoder ring to not-all-that-neat stickers or something, soon became our overriding interest in getting a box of CJs.

MacDonald’s picked up on this quirk of childrens’ propensity to seek surprises by including in each of their Happy Meals some kind of useless plastic toy, figurine or what-not. My son, when two years of age and strapped into his kid seat in the back of the car, would scream bloody murder in order to get one of them and then, after giving it a quick look-over, fling it to the floor with those accumulated during earlier visits. Had I kept those CJ prizes and my son’s Happy Meal toys over the years I would be the proud owner of bales and bales of recyclable plastics by now.

Little homemade surprises could be just as fun and of higher value. For example, Mom would often bake yeast rolls for our holiday dinners. Before putting the dough in the oven, she would wrap dimes in aluminum foil and insert them in the center of some of the rolls for us to discover at dinner time. That was fun and basically ensured that there would be no rolls for leftovers.

Well, we can all enjoy a surprise from time to time. But, personally, I prefer to keep mine small, like those found in a box of CJs, since not all surprises are pleasant.

Clyde’s dale

I’ve always loved horses. Probably because, as I’ve noted in earlier essays, I was raised on a seemingly unending series of TV westerns during my childhood back in the 50’s (remember this? Cowboys and Cowgirls)…

Rite of passage

The U.S. ended military conscription in 1973. Prior to that, every young man, upon reaching the age of eighteen, was required to register for the draft (as they are to this day, by the way)….

One comment

    Loved those Wheaties plastic jets and planes
    Curt seemed to always get the one I wanted
    Led to lots of cereal in the bushes and flower beds, bugs like Weaties right? And after all there may be some fertilizer content for the plants?

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