Caffeinated Cracker Jacks Are All Jack'd Up
November 16, 2012

Cracker Jacks With Caffeine Draw The Ire Of Consumer Advocacy Group

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Perhaps the Mayans were right. After all, in just 2 days we´ve heard that Twinkies (once thought to be able to outlast the apocalypse) will soon cease to exist and Cracker Jacks will soon be available in a caffeinated coffee version.

Frito-Lay, maker of the iconic and American favorite announced yesterday that they´d be rolling out a new line of Cracker Jacks called “Cracker Jack´d.” New flavors include Cheddar BBQ, Salted Caramel, Spicy Pizzeria, Cocoa Java and Vanilla Mocha.

The last two coffee-themed flavors are said to have “approximately 70 mg of caffeine in each 2 oz. package,” according to Frito-Lay.

The company says they´ll reach this 70 mg mark by mixing in coffee to their toffee treats, as well as the usual sugar and molasses.

Now, one consumer advocacy group is concerned about these snacks which will carry the same amount of caffeine as a shot of espresso or a 12 oz. soda. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has written a letter to the FDA, saying these new Jack´d snacks violate some federal food codes.

"Caffeine is generally recognized as safe only in cola-type beverages and only at concentrations of 0.02% or less (about 72 mg per 12 oz.)," explains the Center´s letter, according to ABC News.

Frito-Lay has issued a response, saying they´ve effectively sidestepped these federal food laws by adding real coffee into the mix.

"It is worth pointing out the regulation referenced in the Center for Science's letter to FDA speaks to caffeine -- not coffee -- and is not an exhaustive list of the safe uses of caffeine in foods and beverages. Rather, it represents one particular recognized safe use."

This addition of coffee isn´t what concerns Jeff Cronin, the director of communications for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

In an interview, Cronin said the Center is more concerned for the children who may buy this product.

"It is wholly inappropriate to add caffeine to a kid-friendly product, regardless of whether the caffeine comes from coffee or another source," said Cronin.

The flavoring and caffeine isn´t the only thing different about these Cracker Jacks. Frito-Lay is also changing the logo and the packaging for these snacks, turning Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo into ghostly looking characters and placing them amidst a dark, black background. It´s this change which Frito-Lay says suggests the product is aimed at adults and not children.
These changes aren´t enough to appease Cronin, saying children will still want to try these new Cracker Jacks no matter how they´re marketed.

Outside of the fact that Frito-Lay is jacking around with an American pastime, many are concerned this is just another example of our country´s dangerous fascination with caffeine and other energy drinks. For instance, the FDA is currently investigating 2 different energy drinks which are suspected to have killed nearly 20 people in total.

The FDA is currently investigating Monster Energy drinks for the death of 5 people this year alone.

Another energy drink, 5-Hour Energy, is also suspected to be linked to the 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has also recently called out the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group for fortifying their 7-Up sodas with vitamins. The FDA prohibits companies from fortifying candy and sodas with nutrients.