Why do people eat peanuts and Cracker Jacks at baseball games?


It’s unlikely you’ve failed to notice the phenomenon that is eating peanuts and Cracker Jacks at baseball games. They’re everywhere, but did you ever stop to wonder why? Why are peanuts and Cracker Jacks so popular at baseball games? We’ll let you in on the secret…

Spotting a gap in the market

Baseball had been America’s favorite pastime since the 19th century, but has fallen in popularity to basketball and football in recent years. When it was at peak popularity, anyone living near a ballpark did whatever they could to get a ticket to the ballgame. With such a captive audience, one smart businessman realized this was the perfect opportunity to advertise.

Harry Stevens knew that if tens of thousands of people were watching the game, then they were watching the space around the field just as intently. Stevens convinced one business owner to invest in the advertising space around the baseball park but didn’t take payment in the conventional method.

Why do people eat peanuts and Cracker Jacks at baseball games?

Paying peanuts

Have you ever felt as though you were getting paid peanuts to do your job? Stevens realized that wasn’t such a bad thing. The businessman sold the advertising space to a peanut company and took payment for the space in nuts rather than cash. Stevens realized he could make more money from selling the peanuts than simply taking the cash, so his advertising ploy began.

It was a risky move as he didn’t know for sure if baseball fans were going to buy into his idea of selling peanuts at the game. Stevens didn’t have to wait long to realize his move was a masterstroke, and customers couldn’t get enough of the peanuts. The reason they were so popular was because it allowed fans to snack without taking their eyes off the action. It also helped that the nuts came with their shells on, so fans could expend some of their nervous energy by trying to de-shell them.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Peanuts had found their place in baseball, but the favored snack got a popularity boost when the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was released in 1908. The line: “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks” would prompt anyone who had forgotten to head to a vendor to grab themselves some nuts.

Why do people eat peanuts and Cracker Jacks at baseball games?

The demand continued to rise, and eventually, you couldn’t go to a ballgame and not grab some peanuts or their sugary alternative, Cracker Jacks. Advertising space is no longer paid in peanuts, but the snacks have become so popular fans would revolt if they went to a game and they couldn’t get them. Every year there are over 3 million bags of peanuts sold, proving that fans are just as in love with them now as they were 100 years ago.

In the end, all it took was a clever businessman who realized that sometimes money isn’t everything, making Harry Stevens’ payment of peanuts one of the best things to ever happen to baseball. Fans can enjoy their delicious peanuts and Cracker Jacks for the simple reason of one early advertising strategy.