Delicious Memories

I haven’t spoken to my parents in about 12 years. It’s a long story, not a particularly interesting one, so I won’t go into it. Even though I don’t speak to them anymore, don’t draw the conclusion that they never did anything nice. That would be wrong.

When Hostess started issuing cards in 1975 on the back of Twinkies, Cupcakes, Suzy Qs and Chocodiles (which may have arrived on the East Coast a few years later) boxes, I was quick to up my intake. Not that I needed an excuse to eat more Hostess Cupcakes, an all-time great junk food, but cards were a very effective spur to increase buying. I was a pretty serious collector by 1975, but still dumb enough to cut the cards from the boxes. I don’t even want to show any; they’re not terribly cut, but they make me feel bad. By the following year I realized I should cut the whole back panel out.

1977 Niekro panel front004

Around that same time my mother started taking me to a Hostess outlet. I can’t remember where it was in relation to our Lake Grove home in the middle of Suffolk County, but it wasn’t close. The outlet (imagine a Hostess outlet!) had boring stuff like bread and rolls but it had boxes and boxes of pastries (does Hostess product count as a pastry?). I could take my time checking their inventory and picking out cards I needed. It was a cake/card shop, the nearly perfect shop for a mid-teen like me.

My mother was a good sport about it, buying, it seems to me, as many boxes as I asked for. Once we brought the goodies home, there was no way I was going to wait until me, my brother and maybe my parents slowly ate their way through the stock. I dumped all the cakes out and put them in a bowl. The cellophane wrapper kept them sliding off each other, but I managed to cram the whole lot into the fridge. (There’s nothing better than cold Hostess cakes.) The boxes were empty, the back panels were cut and laid in an old shoebox.

1979 Hostess Yount panel front008

It wasn’t until 1977 that I saw individual cards in two packs of Twinkies and Cupcakes. I was visiting my cousin in Staten Island and we were in some kind of convenience or grocery store when I saw them and bought a bagful. I probably through an immature tantrum and made him pay. Like many food issues, those cards were the platter that the product sat on, so the cards all get stained. I’ve read that clean cards were released into the hobby, but that’s cheating. I got mine, Twinkie grease and all, the old fashioned way, at the retail level.

197 Hostess Twinkie Carew front013

I was looking through my Hostess cards (full confession: to list doubles on eBay) and I was instantly brought back to mid-70’s Long Island. Hostess cards bring happy memories and all I need to do is look at them. I don’t even need to eat a Twinkie to be transported. Even Proust’s madeleine couldn’t do that.

Author: Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

10 thoughts on “Delicious Memories”

  1. So were these blank on the back side?

    I’m too young for these but in the early 90s Hostess started making baseball versions of their cupcakes (white frosting with red stitches) and those came with baseball cards too. This time they were separately packaged and protected from the food.

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    1. For whatever reason I’m unable to comment on blogspot blogs so I’ll comment here. I really hope you kept that as a sheet. Also, it’s interesting to see that, where Topps (and eventually Donruss and Fleer) printed everything as common cuts until the 1990s the sheet you have is laid out with quarter-inch gutters between the cards.

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  2. I,too, consumed many a box of Hostess snack cakes. My dad was a huge Twinkie fan so it was easy to convince him that they were cheaper by the box. I started out cutting then started leaving them panels.
    The panel you featured has Rupert Jones on it. Ruuuuuup!! The M’s first AS and original fan favorite.
    By the way, I agree with you that the Hostess cupcake is a fine treat. Loved to peel off the leathery icing. It is best not to contemplate the ingredients of the cream filling, though. I will take one any day over extravagantly priced specialty cupcakes. Off to the corner market!

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  3. Twinkie fan here that of course cut them out and then later during the baseball craze of the late 80s I lost them because they were worth nothing according to baseball card shop owners. I was after Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds rookie cards by then…….to be honest I wish I still had the Hostess cards over the Bonds and McGwires.

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  4. I’ve written about Hostess cards so many times all I can think of to say here is I am a big, big, big fan of refrigerating almost all foods.

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  5. I remember these too! My particular favorite was the Ding Dongs and we just shoved them all into the freezer when I cut out the cards. Yes, I cut each card out. My card collection is loooong gone, as Ernie Harwell would have said (thanks Mom!), but I seem to remember having about 12 Dave Winfields in that ugly brown and yellow Padre uniform.

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