Want a good example of how a product can adapt with the times?  Look at Cracker Jack.

The product once known as “candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize (…that’s what you get in Cracker Jack)” has come to describe itself as “caramel coated popcorn”, apparently a more PC term for the health conscious.

The boxes still contain a prize — in my case, an Atlanta Braves sticker — a far cry from the actual 3-D prizes of my youth, but a nod to brand names and the allure of something recognizable.

It also allows you to “download fun, authentic Cracker Jack prizes to your smartphone” (at crackerjackapp.com). Actually, what you download are two different games you can play on your phone.  Cracker Jack has always been associated with games, originally little plastic mazes that you rolled a tiny bearing through, so it seems appropriate that they morph into sponsoring electronic games now.

So here they are, 120 years later, still with popcorn coated in sugary-stuff, peanuts and a game-related prize.  They have evolved, but not so much that the surprise inside is inconsistent with who they are or what you would expect. All in a box that brings back all the feelings of nostalgia for everyone who grew up with the sailor and puppy as a treat.

If someone saw your organization in the past and then looked at it now, what would be the same and what would be different?  It is a good thing for there to be some of both.

— beth triplett


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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