Baseball was wildly popular in the 1960s and throughout the 1900s in general, more and more products wanted to be associated with the game. The 1963 JELL-O set did just that with the company creating a set of baseball cards printed on the exterior of their boxes. It was the second straight year cards were issued on the backs of the company’s pudding and gelatin products.
Like other food issues, the 1963 JELL-O set is a release being sought after by more and more collectors diving into the vintage market. Many of these collectors have completed the standard Topps sets and are looking to collect different issues. The ’63 JELL-O set is tougher to complete than the inaugural 1962 issue.
Unlike other food issues where the cards were inside of the packaging, JELL-O printed these cards on the outside of the boxes. That allowed collectors to see which card was included in advance of buying the product. Collectors looking for the star cards, a favorite player or favorite team’s players no doubt enjoyed that. The exterior printing was also favorable for fans that were assembling an entire set.
The cards are certainly different from the standard Topps cards of that era. For one thing, the blanks were completely blank and were simply the inside of the product box. JELL-O crammed a player picture, a bio, card number, and stats all onto one side of the card. The cards had a horizontal layout and measured approximately 2 1/2″ x 3 3/8″.
In an effort to create a relatively basic set with few frills, many food issues contain shorter checklists. Like the 1962 set, however, the 1963 JELL-O set contains a massive 200 cards (100 from the American League and 100 from the National League).
Smaller sets were generally easier and less costly for the sponsor to produce but larger ones such as this were advantageous to collectors because of the large checklist. As a result, most of the stars from that era were included.
Mickey Mantle, as he is known to do, steals the bulk of the attention here. But plenty of other Hall of Famers are included as well, such as Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Ernie Banks, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, Yogi Berra, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Brooks Robinson, and many more.
It is also worth noting that, while the big names are certainly the more desirable cards as a whole, some of the common players are shortprinted and command lots of attention as well. Plus, as mentioned, the cards were printed on the outsides of the boxes. As a result, common players were probably often overlooked or simply discarded while collectors sought the stars.
No article on the 1963 JELL-O cards would be complete without a mention to the parallel sets distributed by Post Cereal. As they had done in the two previous seasons, Post produced a set of baseball cards. The 1962 and ’63 JELL-O didn’t only use the same layout/design, but also the same players. Further adding confusion is that the card numbers were the same.
Given all of that, it can be confusing for collectors to tell the two apart. There are, however, a couple of ways to identify them.
First, the JELL-O cards have a shorter red line separating the player’s lifetime stats from his stats in the 1962 season. The divider line on the Post cards starts well in advance of the listing of the stats on the left side while the line on the JELL-O cards begins much closer to the start of the stats listed.
In addition, the JELL-O cards are also slightly smaller than the Post cards. JELL-O cards are just shy of 3 1/2″ wide while the Post cards are 3 1/2″. Because they are hand-cut, it can be difficult to gauge them by this metric, however.
In general, the 1963 JELL-O prices are reasonable. The biggest hurdle for collectors wanting to assemble a set is usually less about finances and more about finding all 200 cards.
Non-shortprinted commons in decent condition in the set can be found for under $5 and many of the stars are often under $20. The biggest stars in the set are arguably Mantle and Clemente, and their cards start around $50 in decent shape. However, even their cards are passed by when it comes to some of the shortprints. Two Al McBean examples recently sold for more than $400.
These cards can occasionally be found still on unopened packages, too. Those are generally pricey, fetching several hundred dollars and up.
You can see 1963 JELL-O on eBay by clicking here.