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Hostess is diabolical and testing my OCD

Most of my vintage focus the last couple of months has been on the 1976 Hostess set.

I didn't mean for it to take up so much of my time. I have other card things I want to do and had planned on doing those while I built the Hostess set. But Hostess will dominate your world, it's diabolical, and I didn't expect that.

First of all, the set is 150 cards. All of the Hostess sets from that time are. That's insane.

I'm used to my food issues being 60 cards, max. Most, like Drake's, are barely 30 cards. Kellogg's is what I primarily saw as a youngster and those were always around 50 or 60 cards. That's doable and sensible if you're fishing cards one-by-one out of the cereal box or ordering them off the side of the box with your newspaper delivery money.

But, no, Hostess wanted you to run through a Twinkie-fueled gauntlet in which you cut cards off the side of a box, three at a time, or pulled them away from your greasy Suzy Q's, and then repeated that until you had all 150 cards. Three into 150 is 50 boxes of junk food cakes! What delinquent mom bought all those? I've never heard of any way you could order the whole set at once. So that's A LOT of Suzy Q's or Choco-diles and any kid who's going to do all that is going to fail because he's going to be passed out in a sugar coma halfway through.
Hostess also tests my patience, basically the OCD part that makes me so good at my hobby, by defying basic cardboard hobby neatness standards. There are all kinds of things that can go wrong with Hostess cards that I don't like. The staining, the scissor disasters. Because of that I have a few basic rules when trying to complete a Hostess set:
1. No significant stains
2. No paper loss
3. No major creases
4. I must be able to see all of the words and letters in their entirety on the front or the back
I think those are reasonable rules. I know a bunch of collectors who won't even bother to collect Hostess cards because they can't handle that no two cards are cut alike. I get comments to that effect every time I post about these. But these are cards from my childhood. I can't ignore them. Also, Hostess teaches you a little bit of zen. You need to accept the characteristics of Hostess as they are. It IS a Hostess card because it's not a perfect rectangle. It is a Hostess card because it won't line up straight on your scanner.

These are all 1976 Hostess cards that I've picked up in the last month-and-a-half. Note that they go every which way. Note that a couple even violate my paper-loss rule, only because sometimes it's tough to tell on an ebay scan.

However, they're mostly in remarkable shape when you consider the average cutting skills of a 10-year-old boy in 1976. I've seen all kinds of Hostess cards shaped like trapezoids or ovals or ... is that a fish? So, yes, all of these will fit into the collection quite nicely. And it won't bother me a bit when I open the Hostess binder and see an edge that is diagonal. This is the zen of Hostess.
I mean look:

I cut this off a panel myself. I am over 50 years old. I've had control over my motor skills for quite some time. I used a straight-edge and a box cutter to trim this off. And I still got too close on the left side.

(For those whose OCD is more advanced than mine and are wincing at what I've just said: the Ryan on the panel was far cheaper than any solo Ryan I saw for sale. The other cards that shared space with Ryan I had already and can trade. Therefore: panel gets cut).

Sometimes even stained Hostess cards get through, violating THE FIRST RULE! This one doesn't bother me a whole lot, though. I might upgrade.

I am also trying to complete all the other '70s Hostess sets, which now seems ridiculous given how much effort it's taken just on the '76 set. I don't have the enthusiasm for those sets like I do '76, particularly '78 and '79, which I don't hold as highly as the '75, '76 and '77 sets I saw as a kid.

But how can you resist this?

This is the '79 Hostess Fidrych, which uses the exact same photo that was on the '77 Topps Fidrych rookie card (except without the All-Star banner). I've been aware that Topps and Hostess were connected for quite awhile but this still amuses me.

This card (cut wonderfully by the way) actually got me to put up want lists for the '78 and '79 Hostess sets and looking at them it appears I need about 500 cards each instead of the actual 130 apiece or so.

Even after acquiring all of the above, my '76 Hostess want list didn't seem to be shrinking fast enough. So I engineered a trade on Twitter.

The package from Jason arrived yesterday and looking at it, I realized that I had just completed my biggest swap for 1970s oddballs in my entire collecting history.

Most of the cards were '76 Hostess, of course. They are such a priority for me that I traded away a couple Kellogg's cards from '70, '74 and a few from '81, as well as a couple Hostess cards from the late '70s. Those are all sets I plan to complete some day but not right now! (You may notice a couple of 1980 Kellogg's sneaking in there, too).

These are all fine specimens. And the deal went down at the perfect moment as it prevented me from overpaying for a panel that contained Garvey, Blue and Rader.

The trade also boosted my modest number of '78 Hostess cards.

Yeah, there is no way you're going to be able to line up four Hostess cards in a box and scan them straight, even neatly-cut cards like these. (Check out that mustache on DeCinces).

Jason also sent a whole bunch of '79 Hostess, several direct from childhood I believe:

Several of those will work quite well in my collection and others violate rule No. 4 in that some of the letters are cut off on the front or the back. But they're nice placeholders and it certainly won't prevent me from wanting more Hostess cards.

I can "Waits" for another copy. Or maybe this one is fine. Patience is so very key with Hostess cards.

For instance, even after all that work and everything that you see here, I still need 32 -- THIRTY-TWO -- cards to complete the 1976 Hostess set!

Diabolical, I'm telling you! Nobody can stuff down that many Twinkies!

This is one of the reasons why I refuse to collect any of the variations for these cards. I don't care whether the backs are in black type or brown type. I don't care about the Twinkie variations (the ones with the black bars on the back). One copy is good enough for me.

One non-stained, non-scuffed, non-creased, non-cut-by-a-budding-psychopath card.

Yeah, that's a lot of rules for an oddball like Hostess. But at least I'm still in the game.


Not sure if I'll ever complete the Hostess run, but it won't be because I didn't try.
Fuji said…
I'd love to build the 1976 set at some point. If I did... I'd start with no rules and see if I can live with it. Reading this post pulled me in two directions though.

#1: 150 cards is a crazy amount and I could see this being quite the money pit. I mean expensive project.

#2: On the other hand, there are so many shots of the Oakland Coliseum and Candlestick Park... I feel almost obligated to give it a shot.
Nick Vossbrink said…
This is making me want to attack my Giants Hostess needs as well as really go after the Candlestick photos. I've been slowly/passively grabbing them when I come across them for under a buck but all these los people are posting are quite inspiring.
Didn't realize the Hostess sets were that big! I feel like I rarely see these in the wild (at card shows, for example). Definitely see more Kelloggs for some reason. Maybe just because more Corn Flakes, etc. are/were consumed than Twinkies, etc.
I've been working on those sets myself but I only have one rule:

1.) If I can afford it, get it.
sg488 said…
Wow I never knew it was such a challenge to complete the Hostess sets,good luck.
gregory said…
1. I feel like eating a Twinkie. Or a Ho Ho. Or a Ding Dong.

2. Considering the climate of the trading card world these days, could you imagine what would happen if Hostess started printing baseball cards on the back of their boxes again? Fights in the snack food aisle of the local supermarket? Signs that read "One Box Per Customer, Please"? People getting in their cars and following Hostess trucks?
bryan was here said…
That '79 Omar Moreno has the distinction of being the absolute first card in my collection. I remember seeing cards on the bottom of Hostess boxes as a little kid, but never gave them any thought as I wasn't into baseball yet. I did know that my dad was a huge Pirates fan, so I knew who the Pirates were, like Omar Moreno. So I saved that one, tacked it up on my little corkboard in my room.

I like the Yaz card showing him in old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. If I'm not mistaken, the Luis Tiant card from that set is also showing him in Cleveland.
Bo said…
Lots of great photos in here. The Yaz card Bryan just mentioned might be my favorite.
mr haverkamp said…
Some fond childhood memories involved weekly trips to the neighborhood market and searching for the elusive panel with Hank Aaron on it in both 75 and 76. I'm a set collector, so eventually built 75 (cut them), 76 and 77 (left them in panel form). I'm 3 panels short of my 79 set (Ozzie rookie is very expensive, and he shares it with Nolan Ryan); and need about 30 78 panels. Once you had gobbled 3 yrs worth of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Ho-Ho's and still had a freezer full of them, it was tough to chase 78 and 79!
jacobmrley said…
I love LOVE these old Hostess sets but they also make me feel good about just collecting one 9-pocket page of things. Putting together a set of these would drive me bonkers. Same for 60s Post and the later Drakes sets that were cut off the box. Still, I admire your resolve.