Category Archives: History

Where did the toys go in cereal boxes?

So this question came up on Final Jeopardy the other day. (and yes I regularly watch Jeopardy). The category was Americana and the question asked what product used to come with a penny whistle in it? The answer was Cap’n Crunch Cereal. (I guessed cereal but not the brand.)


My other choice was Cracker Jacks.)  That got me to thinking…what happened to  toys in cereal and Cracker Jacks? Do you remember when your mom would buy the sugary cereal (and my mom didn’t actually buy those kinds of cereals that often) and you’d immediately start looking for the prize? And they were pretty good prizes too. But there are no prizes anymore. They do have games on the back of the box. Cracker Jacks used to have cool stuff, too. Now you get a stupid sticker or a paper with a joke on it. I was curious so I looked it up. Found a good article about it here.

Doesn’t seem to be a real answer. The cost of adding the toys? A safety issue…because kids are obviously too dumb to figure out they’re not eating cereal but a TOY!

Either way…I think it’s one more bit of wonder that’s disappeared from childhood…

What cool toy do you remember getting as a kid?


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What You Might Not Know About St. Patrick’s Day


So it’s St. Patrick’s Day. For most people it means wearing green and drinking beer…occasionally even green beer. There is Irish on both sides of my family, though it’s been so long since any past relatives left the old country that any true “Irishness” has been lost.

But how many know the history of St. Patrick’s Day? I looked into the mystery some years ago. (I actually used children’s books. I find them great resources since they’re very succinct. So if any of my information is wrong, blame the kid’s books.)


St. Patrick was a bishop who lived around 385-460 A.D. He was one of the  more popular saints in Ireland, but the truth is, his real name was not Patrick and he was not born in Ireland. Many scholars believe he was actually born in Scotland or England. His real name was “Maewyn Succat”. In his writing he referred to himself as “patricius”, which is Latin for “well-born”. The name became Patrick in English.

When St. Patrick was a boy he was taken as a slave to Ireland where he was put to work tending sheep. It was during those years in captivity that he found comfort in God. After six years, he escaped. However, St. Patrick felt he was being called to teach God’s word so he spent the next few years studying in a monastery. Then he returned to Ireland where he lived for the rest of his life.


Have you ever read the book “How The Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill? If not, you absolutely should, especially if you like history. The premise of the book is that while the rest of Europe was mired in the Dark Ages, Ireland experienced a Golden Age. Irish monks were responsible for copying every piece of literature they could get their hands on. They almost single-handedly (no pun intended) preserved the history of the Western culture, as well as some our greatest literary works. Nearly every written word from before the Middle Ages exists today because of them. If not for the Irish we wouldn’t have The Bible or Homer’s Iliad or Aristotle’s philosophy, no Greek tragedies, not Roman law. The man responsible for this Golden Age in Ireland was none other than St. Patrick.

On a last note, March 17th, the day we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, is not his birthday but rather the day of his death.

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