Mac ‘n cards

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, baseball cards could be found in or on the packages of numerous food and other consumer products. In 1987, the budget minded gravitated to the prepared food isle where Kraft Macaroni and Cheese boxes featured two card panels.  The “crafty” Kraft folks-utilizing a pun- called the series, “Home Plate Heroes.”

For the past 32 years, ten intact boxes have languished in my collection, generally taking up space.  Recently, I made an executive decision to separate the panels form the boxes. The panels fit perfectly in four-pocket pages. I kept two boxes intact, since they were duplicates.

This process piqued my curiosity as to the number of panel combinations and total cards in the set.  It turns out that 48 different players appear on panels in five different combinations each. As you can see, Mattingly had multiple partners in the hedonistic 1980s.

The last Mattingly panel pairs him with Mike Schmidt.  Notice that the two cards are in numerical sequence.  Each player in the set has a combination panel like this. This means collectors could put a set of 24 panels together to form the complete set of 48 players.  Hobbyists didn’t have to cut out the cards-individually-to order the set by number.

If you are the obsessive type who believes that a complete set is possessing all the panel variations, it will require the accumulation of 120 separate panels.

After cutting the boxes, I checked eBay to see if a complete set existed. There was a 24-panel set in numerical sequence for around $6 with postage, which I bought.

As far as oddball sets go, this one is not bad.  It harkens back to the Post cards of the 1960s. However, not gaining MLB rights to show logos is a strike against them. Still, there are numerous Hall-of-Fame members and notables from the era.

The macaroni in the box still looks good and the cheese powder is perfectly preserved by salt and chemicals.  I plan to cook up a box and eat it all while pondering the majesty of Eddie Murray.

Author: Tim Jenkins

Sports memorablilia collector with Seattle teams emphasis. HOF autographs, baseball cards and much more. Teacher for over 30 years. Attended games at 35 different MLB parks.

13 thoughts on “Mac ‘n cards”

  1. Nice grab on that set of consecutively numbered panels! Have you by chance catalogued the entire master set? I would love to study the other number patterns possible.


    1. I have several of these in the original configurations never having been converted into boxes. I had an aunt who worked at the factory where they were printed and she knew I collected cards and she procured them right off the press. Any idea what something like this might be worth?


  2. This is awesome. I remember the excitement of tearing open Post cereal boxes in the 80s and 90s to see what baseball trinkets laid in wait beneath the food product.

    I recall getting a pair of Orioles – Ripken Jr. and a similarly hirsute-glory Murray on cards which were similarly logoless as Post only had the MLBPA license.

    They even had those “deals” where you could send in 5 UPC codes from the boxes – by letter mail!- in exchange for premium items like a color poster of all 26 team logos.

    Good times

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good post. It’s a nice looking set actually, even sans team logos. I give you a lot of credit for hanging onto the complete boxes for 30-something years.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So many of those photos look familiar and I’m thinking it’s because MSA used them for so many different sets. I’m now wondering if anyone’s traced an MSA photo across different issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had the same thought. I may have to pursue this question. The 70s and 80s MLBPA black and white photos ended up on RC cans, cards, buttons and Slurpee cups.


      1. I spy an MSA “rainbow” post in the near future. You may be the best candidate for this though since you’re an oddball AND Yount collector.


  5. That brings me back. As a kid in the late 80s my dad was in the army and we were stationed in West Germany. I was madly into baseball cards at the time but you couldn’t buy them anywhere, even the base exchange didn’t have any, it was insanely frustrating. Then one day the Base Commissary started stocking these. I remember pestering my mom to buy so much mac and cheese that summer.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Don’t eat the Mac&Cheese – my kids just ate a box that was about a year and a half old, and it looked nasty. One bite in, they went ramen.


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