Hostess Baseball Cards 1975-79
Hostess Cakes issued a popular series of baseball cards in the 1970s. A hit with sports memorabilia buffs then and now, this issue is now hard to find.
1970s kids didn't have a lot of baseball cards to choose from. Topps came out with their yearly series. Kellogg's did the same with one to a box of Frosted Flakes and an offer to send box tops and $2 for a complete set. But once you had those, what was there to look forward to in the late summer months? Nothing until the Twinkie man brought the goods to the grocer.
The box of Twinkies made it's way home from the store as it often did. Only this day in 1975 was different. This time, the box advertised baseball cards. And they were on THIS BOX! Anxious kids turned it over to see who they'd gotten in this suddenly new and exciting product.
Hank Aaron? Johnny Bench? Pete Rose? Maybe that incredible strikeout artist Nolan Ryan?
That young collector quickly discovered there were 150 cards to the set. And not only were they on the boxes of Hostess products, they were also issued as the cardboard backer on the single Twinkie packs. A lot of kids (and grownups) gained a lot of weight trying to complete their Hostess card sets over the next five summers.
Sixty of the cards were issued on the Twinkie single packs. But there were 150 total cards in the set. The other cards could only be obtained by buying the boxes of Hostess products which, as today, contained 8-10 cakes. A complete set of those runs $150. Smart collectors who assembled their set from the boxes and left the 3 cards together, cutting them as a "panel" have seen their cards rise to a value of $400 per set of 50 panels.
The sets continued to drive collectors into the bakery aisle for the rest of the decade. Hostess issued cards in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. The individual Twinkie packs carried cards only in the first 3 years but the boxes remained a constant.
Those lucky enough to live near a "thrift" or "outlet" store operated by Hostess could often pick up boxes of Twinkies, HoHos or Cupcakes at 1/2 price or less on certain days. Anxious collectors often waited to see what each truck brought back for sale, trying to complete their set.
The panel sets from 1976-1979 are worth up to $350 in top grade. Hostess did return briefly with a set of cards in 1993, but they could be obtained only through the purchase of a product called "Baseballs".