Bob Insley: I'm curious about the origin of the word "cracker jack", Not just the product, but when the term applies to a person.
Stephen Hess: It's a bit of a guess, but cracked or crackers as far back as the mid 1600s was/is a term for crazy or mad or eccentric. Used as an adjective for "genius", it seems to have evolved into a more complimetary descriptor modifying the common "jack" meaning everyman, and coming to signify a certain excellence achieved, perhaps, at great daring or risk. I suspect the brand name followed (relatively closely) the linguistic usage ca. 1880's.
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