When American youngsters were spotting Topps NFL football bubble gum cards for the first time, kids in Canada were seeing them in their cereal boxes…assuming of course, they didn’t mind eating a non-sugary cereal for breakfast. The 1956 Shredded Wheat set offered a single card of a Canadian Football League player per box. Today, the cards are among the rarest post-War football issues.
Nabisco put together a national advertising campaign in early September, with ads for the promotion appearing in major newspapers across the country. The idea was for kids to convince mom and dad to buy enough boxes to complete a set but it was an ambitious project. There were seven CFL teams at the time and the checklist included 15 cards per team for a total of 105 cards in a full set. To encourage youngsters to start the process, the ad promised “no scarce or missing cards.”
We’re not certain but it would appear the cards may have been inserted into boxes on a regional basis, otherwise collecting a complete team set would have been virtually impossible without buying hundreds of boxes of cereal.
The cards are numbered in series (A1-A15, B1-B15, etc.).
The design was fairly plain with a simple black and white player portrait on the 2 1/2 x 3 1/2″ size cards. There was a dotted line below the image, then the card number and the player’s name. Text on the back of each card reveals that kids were encouraged to complete team set of 15 players and then cut off the bottom of each one. They could then be sent to Nabisco in exchange for one of a few different prizes including an autographed Al Pfeifer football, a cheerleader’s baton or a team pennant.
It seemed like kind of a cheap reward for the ingestion of a lot of cereal.
Since it’s a CFL set, most of the names on the checklist won’t be familiar to American football fans but it does include former Notre Dame star and AFL player Frank Tripucka and former New York Giants coach Allie Sherman, among others. College football Hall of Famer and CFL legend Jackie Parker is another of the top cards in the set.
Tragically, Saskatchewan standout Mario DeMarco and five other CFL players died in a plane crash in December of that year, following the East-West All-Star Game in Vancouver. Today, DeMarco’s card carries a premium. The highest-graded card on the SGC population report is currently for sale.
Today, the total population of 1956 Shredded Wheat CFL cards remains very limited. While ungraded sets and collections can be found in the collections of long-time vintage set collectors, especially north of the border, PSA has graded only 361 cards from the set. Lelands sold a group of nine primarily higher grade cards from the set for $967 in its Spring 2019 auction. Some cards from the set are usually listed on eBay at any given time.