Somewhat lost amid the exploding trading card market of the early 1990s was a set of cards that brought collectors from another era back to their youth. The 1991-92 Fleer Wheaties set wasn’t quite as expansive or unique as the 1961-1963 Post Cereal offerings but it did introduce a new audience to the growing hobby. Today, it’s sort of a forgotten issue that comes with its own set of challenges.
Fleer partnered with General Mills for the promotion which was offered for only one season. With Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls now a sports sensation and the trading card hobby at its junk wax era zenith, it wasn’t surprising.
The front of each carton of Wheaties featured Jordan, who was a fixture on the box in one way or another for much of his pro career. At the bottom, was a piece of advertising copy that alerted consumers to the basketball cards that essentially became the back of the box.
The front of the cards were the same as what collectors were seeing inside boxes of ’91-92 Fleer basketball, with a hodge-podge of 72 cards from the set featured. There were eight sheets, each containing nine cards that were meant to be cut out. Most kids did just that but some were cut out as entire back panels. Other, more savvy collectors opted to flatten the box and leave as is.
Four million Wheaties boxes carried the cards on the back during the promotion, which ran from February through April of 1992. The sheets included a sampling of regular base cards along with images of the insert and special cards that were a part of Fleer’s set. The cards were numbered on the back with Larry Bird leading off the set. There’s no Jordan base card but his Pro Visions card was given the Wheaties box treatment.
In all, 19 Hall of Famers are represented in the set including base cards of Bird, Dennis Rodman, Clyde Drexler, James Worthy, John Stockton and Reggie Miller.
The backs of the cards were obviously printed on the simple, gray cereal box stock and differed greatly from the regular Fleer cards, making the differences easy to spot.
As usual, Wheaties used bits of glue to hold the plastic inner bag that contained the cereal to the inside of the box, which, of course, impacted the backs of some cards.
The relatively limited amount of boxes, sheets and single cards that were saved means assembling a set in any form can be somewhat challenging but collectors who have been patient have often found flattened box lots or full sets for a fairly low cost because interest remains somewhat limited. That might change as interest in basketball cards continues to grow. The set is now 28 years old and a large find isn’t likely. Either way, looking at them will make you wish you had bought more Wheaties in the early 90s.
You can see 1991-92 Wheaties Fleer sets, single cards, boxes and more on eBay here.