Cracker Jack Popcorn

Day ten of 12 Days of Oscar brings us to this year’s nominees.  Moneyball, based on the 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Losing an Unfair Game, is an account of the 2002 season for the Oakland A’s baseball team.  Facing a limited payroll with which to replace key players, former baseball player and current General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) hires Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), as the Assistant GM for the Oakland A’s.  Beane and Brand select players based on the unconventional idea of the on-base percentage.  The team goes on to win twenty consecutive games, a league record.

If you’re a baseball fan, this film really is a must-see.  Moneyball is nominated for six Oscars this year: best picture, best actor (Brad Pitt), best supporting actor (Jonah Hill), best adapted screenplay, best sound mixing, and best film editing. I’m really rooting for Hill in this race, I think it’s great to see him cast in a role like this, and I think he did a great job with it. Moneyball has received more Oscar nominations than any baseball movie since The Pride of the Yankees in 1943.

To represent this film, I decided to make a replica of Cracker Jacks, the candy coated peanut and popcorn mixture popularized in the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  This recipe starts out with air-popped popcorn, but you could use the microwave version if you don’t have an air popper. I would omit the salt if you did, but other than that I think the recipe works just fine with microwave popcorn.

Copycat Cracker Jacks


  • 6 Tbs. unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1 C. peanuts
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 C. brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbs. molasses
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


Pop popcorn in an air popper according to manufacturer directions (or, use 2 bags of microwave popcorn).

Remove all unpopped kernels.

Heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Combine the peanuts and popcorn in a large bowl.

Spread mixture on a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and put it into the preheated oven.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a saucepan.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, and, stirring constantly, cook it until it reaches a temperature of 260 degrees (the hard-ball stage).  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, it has reached the hard-ball stage when a small amount dripped into cold water forms a hard but pliable ball. This will take 20-25 minutes.

Remove the popcorn mixture from the oven and quickly pour the caramel mixture in a fine stream over it.

Place the mixture into the oven for 20-30 minutes total, turning every five minutes to coat.

Makes 4 quarts.

Source: Adapted from Top Secret Recipes


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