Saturday, March 25, 2023


The Topps Premium Rewards Program for wholesalers, direct markets, consolidators and retailers has been covered here a few times previously.  It required a full department, called Premium Records, to deal with all the paperwork as Topps had thousands of accounts, all of which were eligible for the program. I suspect this department also took care of the prizes ballplayers received if they chose not to take cash from Topps. 

I've shown this several times before but it's germane here, from the internal-only team building exercise creation 1970 Topps Teamates set:

Salaries, overhead, etc. would have eaten up some dough, so Topps clearly valued the program.  All good but also not what I want to make the main focus today, although it's certainly tangential.  

I've recently found some official records detailing purchases made by the U.S. Government in 1952 and Topps Gum, a product already reconfigured for retail before a final transition to Military Rations-only occurred mid-decade.  In July of 1952 the U.S. Army placed two separate orders with Topps for their flagship product.  Here, check one out from the 1952 Public Contracts Bulletin:

The order presumably was for 33,000 pieces of Topps Gum and I imagine they were destined for ration kits.  There's another order that month for 24,000 more that I don't feel the need to show (same with the codes that unravel what the line entries mean) as it really just resembles the one above.  I believe the amounts referenced do represent individual pieces rather than some larger configuration but I would like to confirm that someday. 

Speaking of the military, I've shown the Topps Gum rations before as well (yes, this is a total re-hash post!), which wre very close in some cases to the retail product, and in other cases they were the retail product. This is a 1949 dated wrapper and this particular gum tab indeed came out of a ration kit but Topps was still sending the traditional "wafer" gum for ration kits as well into the 1950's as well:

Now, nine years ago I showed this letter from Sy Berger to a woman from South Carolina who was redeeming some certificates for three bath towels.  Today, it ties in with my musings above and the address it went to is intriguing:

Miss Livingston lived on the Naval Base in Charleston as I've now noticed.  It seems possible to me she was ordering for the Navy Exchange on the base but I'm not sure if such places sold everyday retail items to the people who lived on the base or if they came through an official procurement.  I also note Sy Berger was still working in premiums and promotions, right as 1952 Topps Baseball, a set helped create, was launching. And check out the 20% inflation that diminished the value of the merchandise being offered out of the most recent catalog. Topps must have amended up all the old catalogs and related form letters before printing up new ones.  Very typical for them.

It's all very intriguing and raises the possibility Miss Livingston was buying the old, non-candy coated version of Topps Gum, as seen on the receipt attached to the letter.  Or maybe the gum was procured by the Navy in retail boxes and she accumulated the certificates. I like how a new certificate recognized and memorialized the submittal of certificates for redemption! The ladies in Premium Records must have been extremely busy!

I hope to unearth more information about the commercial ventures Topps had with the various branches of the military but do know it was a long relationship, very much tended to by the Shorin family, and two of the founding Shorin boys (Abram and Philip) served in the army during World War 1. The family was a patriotic bunch and their use of red, white and blue packaging for Bazooka was a direct result of this.

No comments: