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

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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