Saturday, March 11, 2023

Past Times Were Good Times

Well I'm still dredging up old scans (and some new ones) here at the Topps Archives Research Complex and recently found a handful of  trade journal photos featuring the Shorin's, the original and long time owners of Topps, at least until Michael Eisner came along.

Here's an item from March of 1940, taken at the Wholesale Candy and Tobacco Salesmen's gathering at the Commodore Hotel in Manhattan, a place where I have attended many functions myself over the years. I swear that folding screen behind the group was still being used when I was attending soiree's there in the 90's.  The roughly 1300 attendees were mostly what is referred to as "jobbers" (wholesalers) and they were a vital cog in the Topps sales machinery. Candy and tobacco were inextricably linked as distribution channels at the time and Topps made their bones through such relationships.  

Here's three quarters of the Shorin boys, along with a coterie of Topps salesmen, they are seated second (Joseph), third (Abe) and fourth (Phil) from the left:

Phil looks a bit like Ira to me but there's very little non-wirephoto quality imagery available of either man, nor of Abe for that matter. As President, Joe Shorin was in many more photos than the rest of the boys. Here's a better shot of the three from the dinner:

Here check out this page from a Topps Topics promotional brochure circa 1948, maybe you can tell better than me:

You can definitely see Phil here though, at right in a snapshot from the National Candy Wholesalers Association trade show in June 1949 and holding his ever present pipe:

This was just prior to the deployment of the one-cent version of Bazooka (the nickel roll had launched two years earlier) and you can see on the banner behind Phil that Topps was still pushing their flagship gum along with the bubble gum's nickel roll. The fellow on the left is Al Bagle, who also worked for Topps.

Backtracking slightly, Topps would go pretty heavy on the PR in the late 1940's and this photo, part of a press release package, is typical as it shows the Topps board having some goofy, bubble blowing fun as they meet, which I'm sure was a planned and well-staged exercise. In this case, taken from a Minneapolis newspaper in September of 1948, these images and some expertly massaged text sometimes ran in Sunday magazine sections:

I believe the fellow on the left blowing a bubble is Dick Guido, who handled Sales Correspondence and Promotions (and who presumably was Sy Berger's boss in the early days) for the company and was featured on the Topps Topics page above.  Note the Tatoo tourist pouch just beyond his left hand, last seen here.  There's one at the head of the table as well.

I'll leave you with a grainy blowup of the pouch:

Boy I'd sure love to find one of those!

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