Friday, November 16, 2012

Remembering Hostess Brands and Baseball

To quote The Beatles, "I read the news today, oh boy." If plans continue as announced, Hostess Brands expects to close operations and 18000+ workers worldwide will seek new jobs. This upheaval in the snack food market also shutters a long cooperative history between MLB properties, the Players Association, and their products, first seen in boxed form during the mid-1970s.

1975 Hostess Twinkies box with 3-player panel

Licensing fees from cross-promotion by Hostess and similar brands proved extremely helpful to baseball's players union (MLBPA) as it moved from "toothless" in the mid-60s to "muscular and growing" in the era of free agency. In the collecting context, their hundred-plus card snack sets also presented licensed competition for Topps during their longest monopolistic era (1955-1980).

More personally, their sets also turned out some badass photos like 1976 #5.

Promotions spilled onto the pages of comics and other things kids spent their money on, further building a love of cards in the minds of young collectors.

Hostess comic and magazine promo

I hadn't thought about the artistry of that ad before, but those are nice hand-drawn renditions of 70s stars Rudi, Jenkins, and Sutton, three guys (and two HOFers) you wouldn't necessarily remember from that era.

If you mourn the passing of Hostess, also remember their significant connections to a time of change and growth for baseball players, its fans, and collecting. Requiescat in pace!


Hackenbush said...

If you're as old as me you do remember them well.

night owl said...

I remember the hand-drawn ads very well. I remember wishing that the very ad would somehow produce cards, like they would magically appear underneath the ad.

Crazy kid.

Fuji said...

Great post. As a child, I looked forward to seeing which Hostess snack my mom would pack in my lunch. As an adult, I look forward to collecting the 70's cutouts of all the A's and Padres' players.

Matthew Glidden said...

Check out the slides of Hostess collectibles hitting eBay at the end of this Huffington Post piece. Lots of people posting stuff (including cards) and hoping for...something.