Hostess CupCakes (yes, that’s how they spell it) have been around since 1919 and have been reported to be the first commercially produced cupcake in the U.S. Through the years many product varieties were developed around this theme altering flavors and shapes. In the latter half of the 1970s, the company’s entire line of products became the home to an enormously popular yearly series of baseball cards.
From 1975 to 1979 Hostess issued 150- card sets in three-card panels on their family sized snack boxes. You may have read SC Daily’s post on the series several years ago. Let’s look back at the ’75 set.
I started collecting the cards while living in Holliston MA. There was actually a Hostess “Outlet store” a few miles away in Natick, where week-old snack boxes that were removed from grocery store shelves to maintain fresh stock were sold at a significantly reduced price. My preschool son was a fan of both the colorful cards and the sweet cakes.
During the summer of 1975, three-card panels were available on boxes of Cupcakes, Ding Dongs (known as King Dons in some parts of the country), HoHo’s, Suzy Q’s, Twinkies and Big Wheels. Photos were supplied by Topps but the cards are believed to have been printed by a third party provider.
Hostess also issued a 60-card set with its twin packs of Twinkies (25 cents back then). The Twinkies set is differentiated from the Hostess set not only because of the small size, but also by a black bar running through the top and bottom center of the back. Twinkies cards were used as the cardboard backing for the moist, cello-wrapped product, which left a bit of a grease stain.
Kids would often cut inside the dashed black line surrounding the photos on these cards. As a result, the original dashed border is absent on many of these cards. PSA will not assign a number grade to the cards unless the full dashed border is visible. Cards without the border are labeled “Authentic”.
In the 1976 – 1979 sets, the panels can be found in both the rectangular three-card array and as a so called “ L “ shaped configuration. They can also be found with their backs printed in both black and brown ink. The ink in the 1975 set, however, was universally black and in the familiar rectangular array.
The 1975 Hostess set contains three memorable error variations that were corrected: #10-12 Burt Hooten/Hooton (correct), 88-90 Doug Radar/Rader (correct) and the 124-126 (Bill Madlock Pitcher/Infielder(correct). The rare Hooton and Rader variations have no graded examples PSA 6 or higher (see table below).
There is a fourth “error” card that was corrected in the 1975 Hostess set but has not yet been accepted by grading companies as a variation, for unknown reasons. Carl Yastrzemski was originally listed as “Outfield”, but since he was playing first base more regularly than left field since 1973, the card was corrected to “Infield” later in the press run. The “Infield” version is much more difficult to find.
Hobbyists agree that the Bob Gibson panel (118-120) is the most difficult of the non- corrected variation panels to find in pristine condition. This panel, was reportedly only printed on the backs of HoHos boxes, which were too small to comfortably fit the card panel. As a result most panels have a factory crease running across the bottom. As of 2020, there had only been 10 Gibson panels graded with only two rated or better.
The same appears to be true for both the 91-93 Russell/Mayberry/Cash panel and the 94-96 Boroughs/Simmons/Decker panels which, like the Gibson panel, are usually only found with a fold crease above the bottom dotted line.
With some 1,100 panels graded we should expect there to be between 20 and 25 panels of each graded. There are some panels, however, that appear to be much more plentiful and even commonly available today as complete unfolded boxes on eBay. Several of the panels including Carlton, Carew, Rose, Seaver, Torre and most notably Ryan (135) and Yount (93) are plentiful both in number of panels graded and in the quantity of 9s and 10s. It appears obvious that for some reason, a large number of them were removed from the plant in quantity at the time.
|Total panels graded||PSA 6||PSA 7||PSA 8||PSA 9||PSA 10|
Not yet recognized as a Variation by PSA
|All 50 panels 1/3 – 148/150||1100|
* includes both variations
Population for graded 1975 Hostess 3-card Panels (PSA SMR 04/2020)
You can see 1975 Hostess panels and single cards on eBay here.