Friend o'the Archive Lonnie Cummins has been on fire recently, unearthing all sorts of old and interesting pictures of things as he continues his quest of sorting out and documenting the 126 "T" codes Topps used instead of the more familiar commodity codes most of us are used to seeing. The T codes basically ran from 1973-80 but there is no discernible reason why Topps changed formats for their test issues. Anyhoo, the other day Lonnie found a doozy of a scan, entirely unrelated to the 70's test issues.
Topps used small round canisters to sell their penny tab products from the get go and the practice lasted until 1949. I've documented many of these over the years and the only two products that can be associated with these displays are the primordial Topps Gum and Tatoo. So by the end of the 1940's these things were already obsolete.
Lonnie found a variant I've never seen before, namely a "Party Pak" of Topps Gum.
I can't get good resolution on the name of the photography studio that took this show but it's typical of the look Topps went for in the 40's. I'm not positive but at a guess I'd say it was designed to hold 40 tabs of gum and sell for 39 cents at most. Lonnie figured out there must be a clear top, so this was meant to be sold in a grocery or variety store and was not a counter top display ripe for the picking. As to what kind of party it was meant for, your guess is as good as mine as the product was always aimed at adults.
This oddity looks to be the origin of the "k" ending used by Topps instead of "ck" and more well known in the 60's when they started selling "Rak Paks". As for the year, it's probably 1948, possibly early 1949 as this next shot shows it being sold alongside canisters of Tatoo, which held the 1948 version of that particular novelty (the first one ever offered by Topps):
That, my friends, is a vintage Sears candy counter-I was lucky enough to have one of these nearby growing up and can smell the hot cashews now.
These seem semi-related to the 10 piece Tatoo "Tourist Pouches" Topps went with in 1948, as this shot from Chris Benjamin's old Sport-Americana Price Guide to the Non-Sports Cards shows:
Once Bazooka penny tabs started taking off after being introduced in 1949, Topps Gum was doomed but it was still gung-ho until then!