In the third sign of the Apocalypse (Paul Ryan was the first, Frankenstorm second), PepsiCo.'s Frito-Lay has come out with a new caffeinated version of Cracker Jack called Cracker Jack'D.
We'll give that a moment to sink in.
The new Cracker Jack'D Power Bites (Cocoa Java or Vanilla Mocha) flavor contains as much caffeine in each 2-ounce serving as a cup of coffee -- 70 milligrams, the FDA limit for a 12-ounce serving of cola. That could mean kids could get an overdose of caffeine if they consume more than one serving at a time (highly likely), warns the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit nutrition activist group based in Washington, D.C. that is going absolutely apeshit.
"Whether or not they are advertised directly to children, it is certain that young children will consume Cracker Jack'D ... and sometimes consume it to excess," CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson wrote executives at Frito-Lay and parent company PepsiCo.
Frito-Lay is obviously just glomming onto the latest disturbing food trend, which includes caffeinated jelly beans, sunflower seeds, beef jerky, and instant oatmeal. We guess sugar, corn syrup and molasses just aren't enough to get kids "jack'd" anymore.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a strong position against energy drinks and other caffeine additives in products. In a 2011 position statement, the group noted that caffeine "has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems."
An excessive amount of caffeine can cause heart palipitations, increased blood pressure, nausea, dizziness and insomnia -- and kids may be particularly sensitive to the chemical's effects.
Frito-Lay spokesperson Chris Kuechenmeister pointed out in an emailed statement to Boston.com that the new Cracker Jack'D Power Bites line has "two flavors that will contain coffee, a natural source of caffeine."
(It would be a problem if the traditional Cracker Jack slogan -- "The more you eat, the more you want" -- applied to Cracker Jack'D. The new version's slogan: "Snacks with impact.")
"Cracker Jack'D is a product line specifically developed for adult consumers and will not be marketed to children," Kuechenmeister wrote. "The package design and appearance are wholly different from Cracker Jack to ensure there is no confusion among consumers."
Actually, the black-boxed snack features the grandapa-era brand's iconic mascots little boy Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo, admittedly looking a little saucier than usual. Other Jack'd flavors include Salted Caramel Kickin' Back Clusters, Cheddar BBQ Hearty Mix, PB & Chocolate Hearty Mix, Spicy Pizzeria Intense Mix and Cool Java Power Bites. Yeah, clearly not marketed to kids. Or at least not just kids. Way to take a cute, wholesome American snack and turn it into a 7-11 stoner food, Frito-Lay.
Cracker Jack'D is not yet mentioned on Frito-Lay's website, which proudly proclaims on its homepage: "Straight talk on snacking. There's more than just fun in our snacks," and then tries to convince you that its products, which include the trifecta of Cheetos, Doritos and Fritos as well as Lay's, Ruffles and Matador Beef Jerky, are good for you.
However, Jack'D already has a Facebook fan page, featuring such comments as: "This is bullshit. Disgusting," "Are you kidding me?," "Terrible idea. Is this real?," "What's next? Meth & M's?" and "I can't wait to get JACK'D!"
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
You can pre-order online from Nationwide Candy, which will be sending out the first shipments after December 22. Six bags of 2-ounce packages go for $11.22.
What's the toy surprise inside? A mini defibrillator? A dose of nitroglycerin? A Valium?
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook, and follow Samantha Bonar at @samanthabonar.