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A classic baseball treat gets a controversial update


Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack’d.

The classic baseball tune “Take me out to the ballgame” could soon see an update as PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay gets ready to launch a new line of the candy-coated popcorn and peanut treat.

One product in the new Cracker Jack’d line is expected to contain about 70 mg of caffeine per package. Called “Power Bites,” the snack is drawing serious criticism from a health-advocacy group, according to a report in Advertising Age.

“Boxes of Cracker Jack are famous for having a toy surprise inside. But what parent suspects that Cracker Jack might come with a surprising dose of a mildly addictive stimulant drug?” the Center for Science in the Public Interest said in a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CSPI says the new products violate federal food rules.

The group also wrote to PepsiCo executives, arguing it is “totally inappropriate” to include caffeine in foods aimed at kids. Children, they note, can suffer “anxiety, restlessness, irritability, excitability and insomnia” if they consume caffeine.

Frito-Lay, meanwhile, is defending Power Bites, with a spokesman saying the snack will include “two flavors that will contain coffee, a natural source of caffeine, as an ingredient.” He added the company stands behind the safety of its products. “It is worth pointing out the regulation referenced in CSPI's letter to FDA speaks to caffeine - not coffee - and is not an exhaustive list of the safe uses of caffeine in foods and beverages. Rather it represents one particular recognized safe use,” he said.

The company also says the product is not going to be marketed to kids. “All marketing for the products will be exclusively aimed at adult consumers, and the package design and appearance are wholly different from Cracker Jack to ensure there is no confusion among consumers.”

The new Cracker Jack’d line is part of Frito-Lay’s plan to expand its premium and value offers.

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