There are still some amazing things popping up when it comes to Topps. I've posted about several different 1940's Topps Gum displays previously, with a good summary found here. If you click that link and scroll down, you will see a traditional cardboard Topps Spot Display that measures about two inches high and held 100 gum tabs. I've now landed an entirely different beast, namely one made of mild steel:
It's a smidge under 4 inches tall and quite heavy. It could easily have doubled the gum load held by the cardboard version and then some. This metal version's visuals are similar to the 1946 cardboard graphics; earlier canisters, some with foil highlights and some without, are dated 1942 and mention "Only Natural Flavors". There's at least one later version as well but I don't have any dated past 1946 here at the main Topps Archives Research Complex. The seller obtained it from a collection in Syracuse, New York but he didn't know any history of it beyond that.
Topps had to use some artificial ingredients as WW2 raged on, so I'm not exactly sure when they switched over from "Only Natural Flavors" to "Take Your Change" but believe it was either during the latter part of the war or just after it ended and this motto clearly ties to their Changemaker ad and PR campaign that went into overdrive after the war.
Yes it's rusty!
I mentioned opening earlier, didn't I? Well you needed a key to open these and Topps handily sent one along for the ride.
Another key certainly opened this bad boy up, perhaps from the same shipment. Well guess what, the day after I received my metal can, another popped up on eBay, albeit from a different seller and sans affixed key, which obviously got used as intended. This one though, still had the lid, although it had been keyed:
I'm about 99% sure the example with the lid was being offered by a store a little to the Southeast of Cleveland. Both of the known metal canisters seem to be connected to the old Rust Belt/Great Lakes area then, which is interesting given the packaging and Topps' connections to a printer or two in the Great Lakes vicinity. The heaviness of the can though seems at odds with Topps micro-managing the shipped weights of their products in the 40's as they had razor thin margins on their penny confections.
This may all show details of an old Topps jobber's distribution route but it's not really clear and another one of my guesses as to its market tends toward military or similar rough use. Shipboard in the Navy or on display at a foreign PX somewhere seems to make sense but I just don't know. All I know is I had never seen one before and now two popped up within ten days of each other!
Interesting. I guess the thought was that if you paid for something and were owed 1 or 2 cents in change, you could just take it in bubble gum instead of a penny or two. Cool piece.
These may have been intended for lifeboat supplies, not positive but there's an indication this type of packaging would have been used as such.
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