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Modern Cracker Jacks

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Easy and quick

Modern Cracker Jacks | Something New For Dinner

As a kid, I loved Cracker Jack® candy coated popcorn. I loved the sweet, sticky popcorn, the salty peanuts and of course the prize that came inside the box. For this recipe, I have tried to keep the essence of the original Cracker Jacks, but make them healthier, less sweet and a little more sophisticated. If you are looking for a dessert that takes about 5 minutes to create, this is the ticket. These modern Cracker Jacks also make a fine afternoon snack when you need a little umph to last until dinner.

Ingredients & Equipment

Modern Cracker Jacks | Something New For Dinner

Here are the ingredients and equipment for this recipe:

Date Syrup

Modern Cracker Jacks | Something New For Dinner

Original Cracker Jacks ingredients include sugar, corn syrup and molasses to provide the sweet candy coating. I use date syrup made 100% from dates. While date syrup is still essentially a sugar, dates have many health benefits compared to sugar.
  • Fiber and Antioxidants
They are high in fiber and rich in protein and contain an abundance of antioxidants and minerals. The ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) measures the amount of antioxidants in specific foods. Date syrup has an ORAC value of 4900. Sugar has a zero ORAC value. Honey is 130 and maple syrup is 590. So adding dates to your diet or substituting date syrup for sugar, honey or maple syrup is a very good thing when it comes to adding antioxidants to your diet.
  • Low Glycemic Index
Date syrup, made 100% from dates, has a much lower glycemic index than sugar. So when you eat dates you won't see the spike in blood glucose that you get from eating sugar. Date syrup's  GI is about 47, depending on the manufacturer, where as sugar is about 70. A rating of 55 or less is considered low on the glycemic index. 70 or above is considered high.
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I use Just Dates syrup which you can purchase at Amazon, Whole Foods and many health food stores. D'Vash Date Syrup is another good brand that is available on Amazon. Alternatively you can make your own date syrup by simmering dates in water, straining out the fruit to create a date juice and then reducing the juice into a syrup. For me, the convenience of purchasing a bottle of date syrup is well worth it in saved time.


I use unsalted butter for this popcorn. I've been a big fan of Kerrygold for a long time. I choose unsalted so I can control the amount of salt in the popcorn.

Maldon Salt

I finish the popcorn with a sprinkling of Maldon salt, which adds crunch as well as salt. With flakey sea salt you can use less salt by weight and you get a little extra crunch. For more information on why I love Maldon salt check out my post on 12 Ingredients that Make Food Delicious.

Trader Joe's Spicy Pecans

Modern Cracker Jacks | Something New For dinner

In addition to sweet and salty I wanted to add a little heat to this snack. So instead of using peanuts, I added Trader Joe's Sweet and Spicy Pecans.


Any old fashioned popcorn will work, just skip anything that comes in a microwavable bag.


It is clear that commercial microwave popcorn is not good for you for multiple reasons:
  1. Microwave bags are coated with a chemical that breaks down to perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) when heated. The EPA has determined that PFOA is a likely carcinogen and may also cause infertility.
  2. Some microwave popcorn contains diacetyl in the fake butter flavoring. There is some concern that this ingredient can cause lung disease when inhaled. Some brands also use trans fat, which we all know should be avoided.
  3. Many microwave popcorn brands include a variety of preservatives, chemicals and additives that are plain not good for you.
If you have become hooked on microwave popcorn for its simplicity and ease, I have a solution that will allow you to continue to make microwave popcorn at home, but without the store-bought bag, artificial butter, additives and preservatives.

Silicone popcorn maker | Something New For Dinner

Photo credit: Amazon

A friend of mine gave me this collapsible silicone popcorn popper and I've never looked back. Sure you can make popcorn the old fashioned way with a pan and a little oil, but for absolute ease I recommend this device which allows you to pop enough popcorn for two and does so without any oil or effort, unless you consider pushing the popcorn button on the microwave effort. Silicone is inert and does not contain any dangerous plasticizers. The FDA considers silicone to be a safe cooking material, but because silicone cookware is relatively new, there are not a lot of studies on it. If you want to be 100% safe, stick to cooking your popcorn in a pot the old fashioned way.  

Modern Cracker Jacks | Something New For Dinner

I hope you enjoy my take on an old classic snack with this Modern Cracker Jacks recipe. I find it the perfect afternoon pick-me-up as well as a crunchy dessert when I need a little something sweet while TV binging. By the way speaking of TV, have you seen the TV show The Imposters? I'm totally addicted to this weirdly premised show. Print

Modern Cracker Jacks

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This tasty and healthy snack is an update on classical Cracker Jacks. I use date syrup, butter, spicy pecans and some flakey salt to make an addictingly good snack or light dessert.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 1-4 servings 1x
  • Category: Snacks
  • Cuisine: New American


  • 1/4 cup popcorn
  • 12 T butter, butter
  • 34 T date syrup
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Spiced Candy pecans
  • Maldon salt to taste


  1. Put popcorn in the bottom of the silicone popcorn popper, put the lid on it and push the popcorn setting on your microwave. Alternatively you can pop the corn in a pan with a little bit of oil the old fashioned way.
  2. Remove the popped corn from the microwave and put it in a bowl. Add the melted butter, date syrup, candied pecans and salt and toss. Enjoy!

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