1940s “Fighting Planes” (E151)
By: John A. Shupek (

E151 Overview

Series Title: Fighting Planes
American Card Catalog Number: E151
Issued by: The Cracker Jack Company
Issued with: Cracker Jack “Prize”
Country: USA
Number of cards: 24
Card numbering: Unnumbered
Type of card: Food insert
Card dimensions: 101.6 × 62.4 mm
Circa: 1940s
Checklist: E151 Checklist

A Little History About The Cracker Jack Company and Cracker Jack “Prizes” [1]

Frederick William Rueckheim - a German immigrant known informally as “Fritz” - sold popcorn at 113 Fourth Avenue, now known as Federal Street, in Chicago beginning in 1871. The popcorn was made by hand using steam equipment. In 1873, Fritz bought out his partner, Brinkmeyer, and brought his brother Louis Rueckheim over from Germany to join in his venture, forming the company F.W. Rueckheim & Bros.. According to legend — an urban myth propagated to promote the brand by Borden Foods-states that Rueckheim produced a popcorn confection and presented it to the public at the World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago's first world's fair) in 1893. No evidence is known, however, that Rueckheim had an exhibit at the Columbian Exposition. In 1896, Louis discovered a method to separate the kernels of molasses coated popcorn during the manufacturing process. As each batch was mixed in a cement-mixer-like drum, a small quantity of oil was added - a closely guarded trade secret. Before this change, the mixture had been difficult to handle, as it stuck together in chunks.

In 1896, the first lot of Cracker Jack was produced, the same year the name was registered. It was named by an enthusiastic sampler who remarked: “That's a crackerjack!” (a colloquialism meaning “of excellent quality”). In 1899, Henry Gottlieb Eckstein developed the “waxed sealed package” for freshness, known then as the “Eckstein Triple Proof Package”, a dust-proof, germ-proof, and moisture-proof paper package. In 1902, the company was reorganized as Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, a song written by lyricist Jack Norworth and composer Albert Von Tilzer, gave Cracker Jack free publicity when it was released in 1908 with the line: “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack!” In 1922, the name of the Chicago company was changed to The Cracker Jack Company.

Mascots “Sailor Jack” and his dog “Bingo” were introduced in 1918 and registered as a trademark in 1919. Sailor Jack was modeled after Robert Rueckheim, nephew of Frederick and Louis Rueckheim. Robert, the son of a third and eldest Rueckheim brother, Edward, died of pneumonia shortly after his image appeared at the age of 8. The sailor boy image acquired such meaning for the founder of Cracker Jack that he had it carved on his tombstone, which can still be seen in St. Henry's Cemetery in Chicago. Sailor Jack's dog Bingo was based on a real-life dog named Russell, a stray adopted in 1917 by Henry Eckstein, who demanded that the dog be used on the packaging. Russell died of old age in 1930.

The Cracker Jack Company was purchased by Borden in 1964 after a bidding war between Borden and Frito-Lay. Borden sold the brand to Frito-Lay parent PepsiCo in 1997, who quickly incorporated Cracker Jack into the Frito-Lay portfolio. In 2013, Frito-Lay announced that Cracker Jack would undergo a slight reformulating, adding more peanuts to Cracker Jack and updating the prizes to make them more relevant to the times.

Cracker Jack is known for being commonly sold at baseball games and is even mentioned by name in the American standard “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” On June 16, 1993, the 100th anniversary of Cracker Jack was celebrated at Wrigley Field during the game between the Cubs and the expansion Florida Marlins. Before the game, Sailor Jack, the company's mascot, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Cracker Jack includes a small “mystery” novelty item referred to as a “Toy Surprise” in each box. The tag line for Cracker Jack was originally “Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize” but has since become “Caramel coated popcorn & peanuts” under Frito-Lay.

Prizes were included in every box of Cracker Jack since 1912. One of the first prizes was in 1914 when they produced the first of two Cracker Jack baseball card issues, which featured players from both major leagues as well as players from the short-lived Federal League. Over the years, Cracker Jack has produced numerous non-sports trading card set “prizes”, including: (1) 1940s “Fighting Planes” (E151); (2) 1930s “Magic Tricks Booklets” (R214); (3) 1930s “Metaphor-Phoses” (R216); (4) 1957 “Presidents” (R720-7), and (5) 1930s, “Puzzles and Tricks” (E154 & R119). In addition, during the 1940s and 50s, the Walter M. Lowney Co. Ltd. Montréal, Canada, under license from the Cracker Jack company of Chicago, produced a series of “United Nation Battle Planes” (V407). Early “toy surprises” have included rings, plastic figurines, booklets, stickers, temporary tattoos and decoder rings. Books have been written cataloging the prizes and a substantial collector's market exists. Up until 1937 Cracker Jack toy prizes were made in Japan. They were designed by Carey Cloud from 1938.

The Cracker Jack prizes attained pop-culture status with the catch-phrase “came in a Cracker Jack box”, particularly when applied sarcastically to engagement and wedding rings of dubious investment. In recent years (under Frito-Lay) toy and trinket prizes have been replaced with paper prizes displaying riddles and jokes. In 2013, some prizes became codes for people to redeem “nostalgic” games on the Cracker Jack app through Google Play for Android-powered devices.

E151 “Fighting Planes” [2,3]

During the 1940s, The Cracker Jack Company issued a 24-card set of unnumbered “Fighting Planes” airplane trading cards that were issued as “Prizes” in Cracker Jack boxes. The E151 “Fighting Planes” 24-card set represents a portion of the “Aeroplanes” set issued by Tydol during the early 1940s. The fronts of the cards feature color artwork of aircraft from Brazil, China, England, Turkey, United States, and Yugoslavia. The image area on the front has no frame line and is surrounded by a wide white border. Directly beneath the aircraft image area is a title block that contains the country of origin and the aircraft designation.

The Backs of the cards are generic and contain advertising copy and an offer by Cracker Jack to obtain a full set of 24 cards via mail order for a nickel. There appears to be at least three printings of the set. Two of the sets were printed on medium thickness grey or tan Backed card stock. The third printing appears to be on heavy white paper stock. The E151 “Fighting Planes” cards are often found stained by the famous Cracker Jack popcorn confection with which they were packaged. The cards measure 101.6 × 62.4 mm, and are assigned the American Cards Catalog reference number E151.

The following reference card shows a typical E151 card front along with the three card Back color variations. Click on the card images to reveal full-size computer enhanced 600-dpi images of the card.

E151 “Fighting Planes” Image-Guide [3]

The following 1940s “Fighting Planes” (E151) 24-card set by The Cracker Jack Company, USA, Image-Guide shows computer enhanced images of the fronts and Backs of the 24 cards in the E151 set. Behind each thumbnail image is a 600-dpi computer enhanced card image that you may access. In addition, directly beneath the Image Guide in tabular form, are links to the original scans used for this series.

E151 “Fighting Planes”

E151 “Fighting Planes” Mail Order Envelope

A very special thanks to Tom Boblitt for sending us the following image used for the mail-delivery of the E151 “Fighting Planes&rdqup; card set.

E151 Checklist

We have provided two versions of the 1940s “Fighting Planes” (E151) 24-card set issued by The Cracker Jack Company, USA. An 8½ × 11 inch PDF version, and the web version shown below. Click on the PDF graphic below to access the PDF version.

E151 Checklist
xCard Title
(1)Brazil: Muniz M-7
(2)China: Curtiss-Hawk IV
(3)China: Northrup 8A-1 (sic Northrop)
(4)England: Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley
(5)England: Bristol-Blenheim
(6)England: Fairey Battle
(7)England: Miles Master
(8)England: Short-Sunderland
(9)England: Supermarine Spitfire
(10)England: Vickers Wellington III
(11)Japan: Karigane 96
(12)Spain: Savoia-Marchetti SM.79
(13)Turkey: Curtiss-Hawk III
(14)Turkey: Vultee V11 GB
(15)United States: Airacobra
(16)United States: Bell “Airacuda”
(17)United States: Boeing XB 15
(18)United States: Consolidated XPB2Y-1
(19)United States: Curtiss XP42
(20)United States: Grumman F4F-3
(21)United States: Lockheed XP-38
(22)United States: Seversky P-35
(23)United States: Vultee V-12A
(24)Yugoslavia: Rogojarsky SIM XIV-H
Env.Shipping Envelope

Non-Sports Cards for Sale

If you by chance need any Aviation or Military related Non-Sports cards and/or card sets, be sure to visit our online store, the SkyCardShop, to see what we currently have listed for sale. If the cards you need are not there, please drop us a note at and tell us what cards you need. If we have your cards, we'll post them on the SkyCardShop. However, as we post them, we'll also send you a “heads-up” email so you can get them before someone else does. We can also set up “Private Sales” via PayPal and skip posting the cards/sets on the SkyCardShop. We're looking forward to helping you fulfill your non-sports cards needs.

Since 2002, we've been buying vintage aviation and military related non-sports cards to feature on our website. We are currently in the process of populating our website with approximately 400+ non-sports card sets, mostly aviation related. Nearly all of the sets that we feature include both “original” and “computer enhanced” 600-dpi scans of the fronts and backs of all the cards in the individual sets. We also include printable PDF checklists for each of the card featured on the website. By the way, if you print out these 600-dpi card images on any high-quality computer (including photo paper) and trim them, they make great full-size “Filler Card Images” to use before you acquire the real card. We should note that we are actually “Image Collectors” rather than “Card Collectors” per se. Once we've scanned a card for he website, we're therefore have no use for it, and eventually post it on the SkyCardShop.


Tom Boblitt — A very special thanks to Tom Boblitt for sending us the following image used for the mail-delivery of the E151 “Fighting Planes” card set.

John Shupek — John is retired Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer that lives in Southern California. John's 36 year aerospace career/adventure started in the mid-1960s when he worked for Pratt & Whitney at their “FRDC” … Florida Research and Development Center, West Palm Beach, Florida. John was part of the P&W jet engine design team for the CIA/USAF's Lockheed A-12/SR-71A “Oxcart/Blackbird” engines (J58/JT11D-20). He also worked on the RL-10 rocket engine and the JTF-17A which was P&W's entry into the United States' SST competition between Boeing and Lockheed. Several years later, John moved Back to California and worked at the AiResearch Mfg. Company at LAX and Torrance. He originally worked on the thermal design of the HRE (Hypersonic Ramjet Engine) which was a supersonic combustion Mach 7 ramjet engine that was to be tested on the North American X-15. John did about three more years of jet engine design work before he disappeared for 13 years into the classified DOE “GCEP” (Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plant) Atomic Energy program for the enrichment of U235. After the GCEP program was cancelled by the DOE in 1985, John was hired by Northrop Aircraft to do the thermal design for Northrop's entry into the ATF (Advanced Tactical Fighter) competition, the Northrop YF-23A “Black Widow II” stealth supercruise fighter. He also worked on the Northrop Grumman B-2A “Spirit” stealth bomber. After several years on a classified stealth missile program, John worked the remainder of his Aerospace career as one of Northrop Grumman's Program Directors on the United States Navy's F/A-18E/F “Super Hornet” jet fighter program.

During John's career at Northrop Grumman he served for five years as Northrop's “Vintage Aircraft Club” Commissioner and the Curator and Webmaster for the Western Museum of Flight in Hawthorne, California. Several years later, John was the volunteer webmaster (for about 3 years) for the Yanks Air Museum, Chino, California. He also served as President and webmaster for two different NPO's after his retirement. The Whittier Historical Society & Museum and Whittier Meals on Wheels.

John's love of aviation history and aviation photography lead to the establishment of this website in 1998. The site has continued to expand and will always grow and will never be completed. It's sort of analogous to a snowball rolling down a hill without any trees to stop it. In approximately 2002, John remembered that he had collected Topps “Wings” (ACC# R707-4) airplane trading cards while in High School. Somehow the cards had disappeared over the years. So at this point, he started to re-collect airplane trading cards via eBay and become an airplane card “Image Collector” rather than a “Card Collector” per se. After John scans an airplane card for the website, he has no further use for it and he puts it Back into circulation via eBay. John's mission statement for the is basically to restore and preserve high-quality card images/artwork associated with the various airplane card sets from the early 1900s to the present. These cards are wonderful historical “snapshots” into aviation history showing which aviation events and aircraft were important at that point in time. For the website, basically if it is a trading card collection that features things that fly, but doesn't have feathers, it is eligible for consideration on the website. John always welcomes inputs and high resolution scans (600-dpi) that can be used on this website. John can be reached via the “Contact Us” navigation button on the left.


  1. Wikipedia. Cracker Jack
  2. Watson, James C., M.D. “Fighting Planes.” Non-Sports Bible (NSB). Vol. I. Chelsea, MI: Sheridan, 2007. p.316. Print.
  3. Shupek, John A. “Fighting Planes (E151) The Cracker Jack Company.” The Skytamer Archive (600-dpi Image Scans). Skytamer Images, Whittier, CA, 2014. Digital Image Database.

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