Snackers soon will be able to get more than a prize from a box of Cracker Jacks -- a dose of caffeine.
Just days after it was reported that the FDA is investigating 13 deaths possibly linked to so-called "energy shots" comes news that Frito Lay is coming out with Cracker Jacks laced with caffeine.
"Cracker Jack'D" is marketed online by Nationwide Candy as "a twist off sailor Jack's world famous Cracker Jack Popcorn. Unique blends of Nuts, Chocolate, Spicy Seasoning and other ingredients give a wide variety of flavors and choices buyers will keep asking for. Get Jacked up and eat some Cracker Jacked or Jack'D."
Frito Lay has told Ad Age and other publications that Cracker Jack'D was developed for adult consumers.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is pleading with the FDA to take a look at Cracker Jack'D and all the products that contain caffeine because of the risk that children will get their hands on them.
In a letter to Frito Lay and Pepsico, CSPI Executive Director Dr. Michael Jacobson said while the products may be labeled for adults only, it's "hard to imagine that the products will not be attractive to children."
"Certainly, label disclosures such as "contains caffeine" or "not recommended for children" will not keep young hands and mouths away from caffeinated Cracker Jack'D products," Jacobsen writes.
Citing Crystal Light Energy products and Jelly Belly caffeinated "Extreme Sports Beans," Jacobsens said he fears that Frito Lay and PepsiCo's marketing of caffeinated snack food will encourage other companies to jump on the caffeine bandwagon.
In the letter to the FDA, Jacobsen listed several caffeine-powered products, including Wired Waffles, which contain 200 mg of caffeine per waffle, and Wired maple syrup containing 168 mg/2 tbsp serving (Marketing pitch: "Each serving has more caffeine than the average energy drink!").
Bang Caffeinated Ice Cream contains 125 mg caffeine/4 fluid ounces (Marketing pitch: "Bang!! Caffeinated Ice Cream is the world's most caffeinated ice cream! One scoop of ice cream is equal to one energy drink which will be sure to keep you moving!").
On the Bang! Facebook page comments, a Wisconsin ice cream shop posted the following text with a link to Bang's website: "Looking for a sweet study aid for your first weekend of homework? Grab a cup of Bang!! Caffeinated Ice Cream from schools and vendors across the Midwest, and knock out your work with a full energy drink's worth of caffeine in every scoop!"
In his letter to the FDA, Jacobsen says the proliferation of caffeinated foods and beverages could lead to troublesome or serious helath problems for children and adults who consume those products - especially when they consume multiple products over the day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should not consume caffeine because of the potentially harmful affects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems and the risk of physical dependence and addiction.
Comments on the new Cracker Jack'D Facebook page are split. One commenter said adults should be able to consume caffeine in whatever form they choose, while another said the packaging will make it attractive to children.
The FDA has not commented on the criticisms from CSPI.
First shipments of Cracker Jack'D will begin after Dec. 22, according to Nationwide Candy.