In light of the apparent demise of Hostess as a entity – and don’t worry, Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s and the like will resurface, it’s just a matter of who purchases the brands and when they gear up production – I thought this might be as good a time as any to give you a run-through of the 5 years of Hostess baseball cards.
Hostess cards were printed on the bottom of “family sized” boxes of Hostess snack cakes from 1975 to 1979. Each year’s set consists of either 150 cards (if you’re me) or 50 3-card panels (if you’re looking for a greater challenge and have a greater budget).
Certain cards/panels are somewhat rarer if they were printed on the box for a less-popular snack cake (i.e. Chocodiles).
Topps provided the images, and did the airbrushing as needed, like on the above 1975 Joe Torre.
The 1976 set had bold red, white and blue stripes, because it was THE BICENTENNIAL and you couldn’t not do something to commemorate the fact that the country was 200 years old. I think there was a federal mandate or something.
Business as usual for 1977; I find this set the least appealing, but that’s a matter of relativity; none of the sets are what you’d call beautiful in and of themselves, but the card design is not why I collect these.
1978 was more subdued than the previous two years, but not bad looking in a minimalist sort of way.
1979 just took the footer and moved it to the header.
You’ll see references to Hostess Twinkies cards… There’s not a huge difference between Hostess cards and Twinkies cards. Hostess cards were sold on the box itself, Twinkies cards were inserted into the individually-sold Twinkies packages (and they often have Twinkie stains on them).
Twinkies can be distinguished by the black stripe on the back, and the fact that they come in single panels rather than panels of three.
Hostess cards don’t have the black stripe, but every year’s card looks pretty much like this:
If you collect individual cards, there’s almost no reason to distinguish between Hostess and Twinkies, and not everybody does. I don’t, and I’ve noticed that COMC.com doesn’t.
Not every card has a Twinkie counterpart; In 1975 and 1976, there were only 60 cards which were Twinkified, and there aren’t any Twinkies cards from 1978 or 1979.
If you really want to go crazy, or have a larger collecting budget than I do, negatives used for Hostess sets have turned up in Topps Vault auctions.
The mid-to-late 1970′s were my peak collecting years as a kid, but I long ago completed the Topps sets from 1974 to 1978. Collecting Hostess cards allows me to keep collecting the players of my youth without getting into some of the more arcane sets of the era.