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Supply, demand, baseball cards … and Twinkies

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

Just in case you haven’t heard, Twinkies have, at least for now, met their maker.

The impending doom, err news, has sparked a run on Twinkies perhaps not seen like any other — or at least not since Tallahassee in Zombieland.

No, really. Here’s Westland, Mich. Here’s another. And they are not alone.

Oh, and eBay? You don’t even want to look at that. Or this. Or even this where it’s listing after listing after listing … it’s quite the sight to see.

But, on a more serious note, what you might not know is that Hostess – the maker of Twinkies — and baseball cards go hand in hand dating back to the mid-1970s.

There are 18 sets of Hostess trading cards listed in the Beckett.com database (click here for a checklist or Online Price Guide) and the cards can be quite tough to find in top condition — at least for the early years. Why? They were issued in panels on the bottom of the snack cake boxes, leaving their condition to the limits of one’s scissoring ability or the hard-knocks luck of life on the shelf. (The idea of BGS 10 Pristine baseball cards were decades away.)

The debut Hostess set came in 1975 with 150 cards in that release followed by sets each year from 1976-79. A total of 13 sets are all baseball, while hockey has two, wrestling has two and two sets are comprised of athletes from multiple sports. Wonder Bread, also owned by Hostess, also had its fair share of food issue sets through the years a few in conjunction with Topps.

While the cards could be found on Hostess boxes or in conjunction with any Hostess products, only two sets were specifically linked to Twinkies as noted in the Beckett listings — a 1975 and a 1976 release. These cards? They were packed directly into the Twinkie wrappers, which often had oil seep into the cardboard over time. (You’ll know them when you see them on eBay.)

Ten of the Hostess releases came from 1985 or earlier with the baseball card boom years reflected only in one major release, which came in 1993 (Canseco card; up top). Those cards, which came protected from the cake’s oils in packs much like today’s cards, were packaged as bonuses in Hostess Baseballs, a yellow cake with white frosting and red laces. Each two-cake combo came with a three-card back for less than $1.

That 32-card release was the final chapter in the Hostess brand’s baseball card legacy — but it was one that this fat boy was able to partake in after years of living in a region of the United States that .. wait for it … only previously sold Zingers.

Sadly, this current “run” on Twinkies — or are the eBay auctions just social statements, you decide — hasn’t quite sparked a run on the baseball cards of the past, but there’s no doubting that food-issue releases like these just might be tougher finds in top condition than some people might think.

Well, at least compared to finding a non-eBayed Twinkie these days.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

8 Comments

nyyankeesfan28

$3 million for 4 boxes of Twinkies? That’s insane! And $88 million for a truckload, even with the truck that’s insane. Twinkies scare me anyway, but at that price it scares me even worse.

Posted November 16, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
Rob

…But the biggest question since the meaning of life: Would you rather spend a million dollars on a box of twinkies? Or a box of cards? Hmmmmmmmmm……Sadly this question will keep me up, at least for tonight. These my friends, are dark days. (haha) I actually need 3 more cards from the ’93 hostess to complete that set: #22,26,29!

Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink
deeez

it might not only be twinkies , drakes cakes might go bye bye too
and wonerbread
i remember all this having cards in them as a kid
battlestar galatica in the wonderbread
and cutting out the drakes pannels in the 80′s
dam i am getting old

Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink
nyyankeesfan28

I would have to go with spending a million dollars on a box of cards, Rob. As I said before, Twinkies frighten me.

Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

Your scissor skills have never been tested until you have cut a Hostess panel off the back of a HoHos box. If PSA had been around then, there would have been a guy with a ’3′ label standing there, waiting for you to finish.

They dissed Snowballs on ESPN Radio yesterday. I love Snowballs.

Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
nyyankeesfan28

Think of all of the people out of work, too.

Posted November 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
Coimbre21

Thanks Chris for giving the Hostess cards a few well deserved paragraphs and spotlight.

I am among the more devoted Hostess collectors and the Beckett guide does not even really begin to capture the variations that Hostess put out. Individual sized Cupcake panels typically are lumped into the Twinkie designation even though the print is smaller on the back. Individual card panels of Ho Ho’s and your beloved Zingers also suffer from this generalization as a Twinkie card, but the dimensions or the panels, not the cards, differ from the individual Twinkie panels. Individual Twinkie sets, were by the way, also issued in 1977. Ding Dong three card panels have black print on the back, while King Dons (folks in the South must have found the name Ding Dong offensive) can be found with brown print. For some variations with flaps, I really can’t even hazard a guess as to what product rested on top of them.

I read about Hostess’ potential demise a couple of months ago in the Wall Street Journal. I went out and bought boxes of Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Ding Dongs thinking the end could be near. They didn’t taste quite as good as I remember in the 70s., probably because no baseball cards were included.

Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink
michael runyon

This is what makes Chris great. I love your articles have since i first read some of your orlando stuff online.

I remember this cards from when i was a kid.

I have not believed they are going out of business from the beginning but part of my wanted to go get a ding dong. They were my favorite. However this fat guy is dropping and even if it was the last ding dong on earth its not worth it to me right now. Maybe in a few more monts lol. 87 1/2 pounds lost since may 1

Posted November 20, 2012 at 6:49 am | Permalink

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