Cracker Jack was born in Chicago after being introduced by F.W. Rueckheim and Brother at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago’s first World’s Fair in 1893. Here’s a recipe you can try at home, made with another tasty Illinois original – Beer Nuts®.
- 12 cups popped popcorn
- 1 1/2 cups Beer Nuts®
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 250F degrees. Place popcorn and nuts in a large bowl. Melt butter in large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
Raise heat to high and bring to a boil, without stirring. Cook until mixture reaches 248F degrees on a candy thermometer for 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Add caramel to popcorn mixture. Stir to coat. Transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring twice. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let cool and break into clusters.
Cooled caramel popcorn can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.