Saturday, February 25, 2017

Foreign Intrigue

Yonks ago, BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd sent along a couple of gum wrapper scans that were clearly intended for marketing in Israel.  In true Topps Archives fashion I promptly saved the scans, filed the e-mail and did nothing for a year!  Well, fear not I've managed to resurrect things.

Topps Gum was the flagship brand from the founding of the company in 1938 until Bazooka overtook it in the late 40's. These little penny gum tabs made the company essentially.  You will recall this was their typical look:

Sometime after the creation of Israel in 1948, the company started marketing gum in an expansion of their International operations.  Shep sent along this wrapper scan, which is mostly in Hebrew:

It's clearly a licensed Topps issue.  The wrapper design is taken from the 1946 US version and includes the asterisk that indicated the wrapper copyright was pending. I assume that was only for this design as the US versions eventually shed the asterisk. Topps stopped making their flagship gum tabs sometime in the early 1950's in the US but still had a market for military food rations into the mid-50's. The Israeli tabs must have been made overseas so dating is difficult but I have to think early 1949-50 on the above wrapper given the asterisk and the fact Israel only came into being in 1948.

Now let's take a look at what is probably a knockoff product:

Compare to a typical Bazooka wrapper of the era,which I show from a premium catalog:

Not a direct match and there is also no licensing information.  It's almost a ripoff of Topps and Fleer all at once given the "Dubble Ballon" wording!

There are a lot of other examples out there in Hebrew, including numerous trading card issues. Topps had a clear eye on overseas sales early on and would take time and spend money to grow market share. They could sell products they had discontinued or scaled back on in the States to boot.

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