What started as single-note cereal promotions in 1960 and 1961 became 4 permutations in 1962 alone, including a LIFE magazine "centerfold" starring #5 Mantle and #6 Maris, all with an eye to selling more sugary grains and boxes of instant pudding. General Mills' 1962 baseball frenzy poured millions of cards into the supermarket on 2 brands, Post cereal (such as Corn Flakes and Grape-Nuts) and JELL-O pudding. (Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire acted out a similar script in 1998, with a home run chase that invigorated fans league-wide and sold plenty of...everything.)
|Card front (blank back)|
Only a decade after Topps entered the "kids-only" arena of bubblegum cards, this national brand saw collectibles as their link between on-field excitement and buyable products. Today's post covers JELL-O; see links at the end for their other sets from the same year.
|Uncut JELL-O box|
While Post cereal featured a red-white-blue Americana theme and prominent logo, JELL-O cards use a simple black-and-yellow look and don't mention the company anywhere. The pudding design also went with a re-cropped photo; today's card shows Mantle's full upper body and some playing field beneath his elbow, but Post stops above the belt line.
JELL-O featured one card per box, far fewer than Post's 7-player panels. I can imagine an excited kid switching from pudding to Corn Flakes for dessert that summer, just to get more cards.
|Uncut Corn Flakes box|
Here's the full list of 1962 General Foods baseball sets with links to #5 set profiles.
- 1962 Post Cereal (multiple players per box panel)
- 1962 Post Cereal Canadian (multiple players, mixed English / French text)
- 1962 LIFE magazine insert (Post Cereal ad on card backs)
- 1962 JELL-O Pudding (one player per box)
Value: My low-grade JELL-O Mantle cost $18. Based on completed eBay auctions, they go for $12 - $25, depending on condition. (Untrimmed boxes are very rare and cost several times more.)
Fakes / Reprints: Cereal and pudding cards came on thin box cardboard and use relatively low-quality photos, so look easy to fake. While I'm not certain Mantle reprints are out there, it's seems very likely. If you're looking for a high-grade version, pick up some cheap commons first so you know what "real" cards feel and look like.