The most popular pre-war cards that are collected are tobacco, early caramel, and later gum/candy issues. But there are also plenty of other intriguing types out there, including F-cards. Those identified a variety of cards that were packaged with food products. That idea of using cards to promote food items wasn’t one used abundantly in the pre-war era but there are several possibilities for collectors. Here’s a look at five key food issues.
The 1920s Fro-Joy cards are one of the more popular food issues out there. A set was first produced in 1927 featuring cards of boxer Gene Tunney and a more popular set from 1928 exists with six cards of the legendary Babe Ruth.
Cards were given away during only a one-week period each year to anyone buying a Fro Joy ice cream cone so production was very limited. Unfortunately, a high number of forgeries exist for the Ruth card and Beckett is the only one of the three major companies that continues to even grade them. If you find an authentic Ruth, most usually start around $300-$400. A complete set with a few better mid-range grades recently sold on eBay for nearly $3,000.
1928 F50 Sets
Four sets were classified as F50 in the American Card Catalog – Harrington’s, Sweetman, Yuengling’s, and Tharp’s. Harrington, Yuengling, and Tharp cards were packaged with ice cream products. And while Sweetman is a bit of an unknown company, part of their product line involved wax candies.
These four sets are nearly identical, although some cards are rarer than others and the backs have advertisements corresponding to each company. Players such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Lou Gehrig are obviously kind of pricey. But some commons from Yuengling, one of the more plentiful sets, can be found in decent shape starting around $30-$50.
The 1916 Tango Eggs set was rarely seen until a large find in the early 1990s revealed hundreds of them. The checklist mostly seems to mimic the E106 American Caramel set that is believed to have been produced the year before. There are a few known differences in it and many corresponding Tango Eggs cards have yet to be discovered, but it closely parallels that earlier caramel set.
Tango Eggs cards are a little more expensive due to their rarity. Commons in reasonable condition start around $150.
1932 Sanella/Astra Margarine Sets
These uncatalogued food issues are international sets. They were distributed with Sanella and Astra Margarine products. Many collectors have only heard of the Sanella set but an Astra parallel set was also produced that is much rarer. Many of the cards involve less collected sports (at least by Americans) but the gem of the set is a Babe Ruth card.
Commons in the set can be found for as little as under a dollar while Ruth’s starts in decent condition around $100-$150. The Sanella Ruth is one of his most affordable contemporary cards. Most of the cards aside from Ruth are not expensive and complete sets can sometimes be found for not much more than the Ruth alone.
1927 Honey Boy Ice Cream
The 1927 Honey Boy Ice Cream set was designated as FC59 in the American Card Catalog. The FC categorization is one created by Jefferson Burdick to help note Canadian food issues. These cards were packaged inside of Honey Boy Ice Cream products and redeeming an entire set would give the bearer a free brick of ice cream. Many cards are found with holes in them and that likely denotes a card that was redeemed then returned to the collector.
A total of 21 of the black and white cards are found in this rare set. Despite the fact that it is a Canadian issue, the set featured both Canadian and American players. Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, and George Sislser are among the more notable names. These cards are rare with even low-grade commons starting in the $150-$250 range.