I knew I had to make it from the moment I saw the photo. The recipe was promptly bookmarked.
Two years have passed since I first gawked at the homemade Cracker Jack from friends Cheryl & Adam Barnes—the powerhouse duo behind Picture-Perfect Meals. Cheryl is the voice and recipe developer that makes up half of the equation. To read her words makes you feel like a lifelong friend as she regales tales of marriage, food and travel. Adam expertly mans the camera. His keen eye and gut instinct captures images worthy of the glossy pages in high-end lifestyle magazines. Together they cook, style and click.
Cheryl referred to the candied popcorn as Crack(er) Jack, and I love the ‘crack’ connotation, especially in relation to its addictive nature. However I would not dare make such a characterization in my house. You see, my children are at that age where they still retain myna bird qualities—they repeat things they hear at inopportune times. Can you see the smirks at the crowded grocery store check stand when my child says, “Daddy loves crack!” or the raised eyebrow from the school principal when the same exclamation is blurted out on campus? I think not. I will admit, however, the snack is a dandy little addiction.
I adore Cracker Jack. That wonderful, colorful package depicting Sailor Jack, his dog Bingo and the caramel corn reels me back a good 4 decades. Back then the wrapper on the box was made of foil and it tore away cleanly as you punctured the box top flap to reveal the crunchy treasure. Whether or not I liked the toy surprise inside, I knew I’d find satisfaction in the cola-like flavor of the caramel corn and the salty-sweet interplay of the peanuts.
So here it is nearly two years to the day since that first glimpse and I’ve made my first batch. The result? Fabulous! Cheryl has nailed the Cracker Jack flavor to the point that I wondered if she was privy to the original F.W. Rueckheim recipe introduced at Chicago’s first World Fair in 1893. As unlikely as that is, I’m good to simply accept she’s a kitchen magician.
And we are all better off with her magic.
Adaptation of a recipe by Cheryl & Adam Barnes of Picture-Perfect Meals