Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Love the 1970's - Collecting At The Grocery Store!

Having just completed the look at the various NFL card and sticker sets issued by Sunbeam Bread in the mid 70's, I started thinking back to those days when I was a kid going grocery shopping with my mom:

Check out all the Baseball Cards and Wacky Packages for sale!

Going grocery shopping actually wasn't too bad as there were a good number of different things you could find to collect at the supermarket back then. Even though Topps was the only game in town in terms of buying packs of sports cards (save for the various Fleer sticker releases I've covered and the Fleer Team Action NFL cards which I'll be covering soon), there were a number of sports related collectibles available at your local supermarket.

Why don't we take a trip to the grocery store and pick up a few things. Lets start in the Bakery since we need to pick up some bread:

Choosing which bread to buy is pretty easy when you've got things like the 1975 Sunbeam Bread Cloth Patches inside:

or 1976 Sunbeam Stand Up Cards:

or 1976 NFL Team Pennant Stickers:

Sunbeam wasn't the only bakery issuing sports collectibles though. Wonder Bread issued Football Cards in their loaves of bread in 1974:


and 1976:

The cards were manufactured for Wonder Bread by Topps.

The other thing that you could find in packages of Wonder Bread was Wacky Packages (image courtesy of
The folks at Wonder Bread obviously could take a joke, and rather than issuing cease and desist letters like some other companies did when their product was the subject of a Wacky sticker, they realized that kids were crazy for Wackys and could drive sales by getting kids (like me!) to bug their mom to buy Wonder Bread. I remember actually wanting to go shopping with mom and checking out each loaf of bread trying to see which sticker was inside.

I guess we'll need to buy both Sunbeam and Wonder on this trip.

The last items we need to pick up in the bakery section are Hostess Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Big Wheels, King Dons, and Cup-Cakes! As a kid, does it really get any better than having your favorite snack food also have Baseball cards on the box?

Hostess issued annual sets of baseball cards from 1975 to 1979 on the backs of their snack products. Each year there was a 150 card set, which was comprised of 50 3 card panels. Each week during the summer I'd tag along to the grocery and head straight to the bakery section and check the bottom of each box looking for Orioles cards. Of course back then I didn't realize you shouldn't cut the cards out individually but should try to keep the cards together on the panel. Oh well, live and learn.

Since we're running low on breakfast food, lets head over to the cereal isle. Time to pick up some Kellogg's Frosted Flakes:

Tony says sugar coated cereal and baseball cards are a GREAT combination!

Kellogg's issued 3D baseball cards from 1970 through 1983, and issued 3D football cards as well in 1970 and 1971.

Fortunately, most years Kellogg's offered the option of sending money and some box tops to get the whole set so mom was spared having to buy a few hundred boxes of cereal to get a complete set.

Since we need something to drink to wash down the Twinkies and Ho Hos, lets pick up some RC Cola in these collectible cans:

RC Cola did a number of promotions with baseball, football, and basketball players in the later half of the 70's. I'd spend my time going through 6 packs trying to find the 6 pack of cans with the best combination of players.

We need to pick up some Pepsi too, since they've got these baseball cards:

Since not everyone likes cola, lets also get some Canada Dry Ginger Ale with the NFL Football Helmet cans:

I loved this set as a kid, and drank a ton of Canada Dry Ginger Ale trying to get the complete set of cans. I displayed the cans on a shelf in my room, and had them arranged by conference and division. The set came out in 1976 as it had the expansion Seahawks and Buccaneers included in the set.

Unfortunately these Gatorade caps came in the early '70s with is a little before I started collecting, but this was an awesome collectible with NFL helmets on the caps of Gatorade bottles:

Now that we've got some food and drinks, lets take the cart to the checkout.

Hey, check this out....they've got Grocery Trays:

Back in the days before Bonus Boxes and Blasters at Target and Walmart, you could buy cards at the grocery store. The cards were sold in cardboard trays that held 3 packs of cards, which earned them the nickname "grocery trays". Just like stores do with gum and candy, they would usually have these right at the checkout area in the prime position to be an impulse buy for kids who wouldn't quit bugging their mom until they bought one (not that I ever did that :) )

On the way out of the store carrying all of my collectible loot, I would usually ask "Mom, can I have a quarter" - since I wanted to get a football helmet out of the gumball machine:

Maybe its just the stores in our area, but I never see gumball helmets for sale in any of the vending machines where I live.

There were a number of similar collectible premiums available in the 80s and 90's in the grocery store as well, but for me the sets of the 70's are the ones I remember the best given the age I was at the time.

Sets like the ones I've just covered were great as they gave collectors some other things to collect once we finished up our Topps sets each year and made a trip to the grocery store a good excuse to work on your collection. Thanks for all those trips to the grocery store Mom!


night owl said...

Great post!

I absolutely need that Hostess Ron Cey card.

I purchased a bunch of those gumball NFL helmets as a kid. Even made up a game where I'd smash the two helmets together until one of them lost their facemask. Whoever still had the facemask would advance to the next round of the playoffs until eventually there was a Super Bowl winner! (Kids have so much time on their hands).

I haven't seen those helmets in gumball machines in years.

--David said...

Wow, this post brings back a LOT of memories! The other thing I remember were baseball helmets we got at DQ with ice cream in them. This was a great post!! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :-)

abramdf said...

Great post, lots of memories flooded back when I read it. My Dad ran a grocery store in the 70s and early 80s, so I often got some of the premiums that the salesmen would give Dad. I had the complete set of the Gatorade football helmet caps with the display frame. I used to track the standings with the caps each season for several years.

I, too, checked out every loaf of Wonderbread to see which Wacky Package card was included! It was tough sometimes, but well worth it. The Hostess cards were tougher, because I wanted the cards, but the treats were almost a bigger reason to get them. Eating a box a Twinkies in a day or two meant that Mom and Dad stopped buying them after a while!

Steve Gierman said...

That sparked a lot of memories! I miss Hi-C in the giant cans.

I wish that sports would infiltrate food packaging like that again.

Dan said...

I used to get those mini helmets at the local IHOP. Terrible food, but I really wanted all those helmets. I think that I still have a bunch of them, too. However, they would probably be in lousy condition as I would play imaginary football games with them. (Not now - when I was 9 or 10!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great post. I am reminded of the Slurpee cups at 7-11 that had different ball players on them. Wiffle balls came with disc shaped cards in the boxes back then as well. I tried for years to get a Hank Aaron 3D card from Kelloggs cereal. Only later did I realize that he was not included in the set for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this!

Baseball Helmets said...

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joe said...

omg night owl i cnt believe you used to do that i tohught i was the only 1 who made up a game for my helmets.i was a kid of the late 80s early 90s and long story short i had purchased an eraser shaped as a foot ball which came on a mini tee! The football culd fit inside the helmet, so i would put the ball inside the helmet and whoever go 2 the other side of the table(endzone) without getting their facemask smashed off scored.
Wow thts so weird how we made up such a similar game and never even knew each other lol!

John said...

deI was 8 years old, my first year as an NFL fan, back in 1980, just learning the sport & the teams. My Dad and I went to the local dept store, and gave me a quarter for a gumball helmet. Out came a Browns helmet, and I cried b/c there was no helmet sticker on it, not knowing it was supposed to have no logo on the helmet. It was my Dad's hometown team, so he thought it was funny that I was so upset about it. We still talked about it for the next 30 years until his death in '10. Dad, this one's for you.