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Coke without all of the bad stuff

I grew up in a Coca-Cola family. We didn't drink it all the time. It was mostly reserved for certain Fridays when we had pizza for dinner.

But that set me on a path of Coke being my go-to soft drink for years. I liked my variety so other soft-drinks entered the scene but Coke was it, as the commercials said, and Pepsi was not. The only time I drank Pepsi was when I wanted to sample the difference and, naw, that's not for me. The Pepsi Challenge was a lie.
But anyway, Coke kind of messed me up. I drank too much soft drink for too long and that will catch up to you. It's bad news. All of those drinks are. And, like I've said, I haven't drank a Coke or any soft drink in 10 years.

Still Coke's connection to my childhood remains and so does Burger King and Kellogg's cereals and Hostess snack cakes, and all of those things will destroy your insides.

But the cards won't.

As you know, I've been on a quest to obtain all of the Coke sets from 1981 in my general mission to chase down food issues from that time period. I've posted about these cards several times this year alone, every time some new Coke cards arrived.

But the biggest arrival was yet to come. I made a card transaction with a fellow Dodgers fan, Alley, on Twitter. She's a rabid Dodgers card collector and was looking through some Dodgers to send me. But then I announced how much I love '81 Coke cards on Twitter. Guess who had a whole bunch of those cards?

Yes, Alley did. (I can't think of a more relatable kind of collector than one who likes accumulating Dodgers and oddballs).

This salvo of Coke cards very nearly helped me complete all of the '81 Coke sets. There are 11 teams with Coke cards that year (I don't know why the other teams were ignored). Each of the 11 teams has 11 cards in its team set. That's 121 cards.

I have 114 of them.

Finding someone with so many of these makes me a bit sorry that I made all those Coke purchases the last few months. I have a few dupes on my hands. However, I know I can send those to appreciative collectors.

The cards Alley sent did help me complete some of the team sets. Here are the ones that are complete:

The Red Sox are complete. Notable cards that look different from the '81 Topps flagship card are Carney Lansford and Frank Tanana (I apologize for the dimly lit pix, there was a storm going on when I took these. I sure wish my printer would talk to my laptop again).

The Cubs are complete. I owned just two of the Cubs cards before this Coke onslaught. There are several differences between these and the Topps cards, Ken Reitz, Dick Tidrow, Leon Durham and Steve Henderson.

Alley completed the entire Pirates set for me. I had none of the Coke Pirates a week ago. 

The only White Sox Coke card I owned before was the Chet Lemon, which I just got like a month ago. I've wanted that Ron LeFlore card for a looooooooooooong time.

The Cards are complete, including that wonderful Bruce Sutter card. Lezcano and Sorensen have the tell-tale airbrush treatment as well.

The Phillies, meanwhile, were complete already, but I should show them off, too.

That leaves the Astros, Mets, Reds, Royals and Tigers as teams where I'm still missing a card.

Here are some key players that Alley sent from teams that aren't complete yet.

So, the seven players left are: Nolan Ryan, Kirk Gibson, Ken Griffey, George Brett, John Wathan, Frank White, Pat Zachry and Rusty Staub.

Ryan and Gibson might be toughies but I don't anticipate much of a problem with any that remain.

I actually used to have the Gibson -- two of them, in fact -- before foolishly trading them away.

Foolish, foolish, night owl. Didn't you know how much Coke cards made you smile?

But enough scolding.

I figured that this quest would take me at least the year but it may not take me more than another month or two. 

Alley also sent a few Dodgers. She says more are on the way, along with those Coke team checklists that go with each team set.

Two Kershaws that I didn't have yet! Wooo!

My beverage choices these days are water, mostly, ice tea, coffee and beer. I don't miss soda/pop. And as long as there are Coke cards to collect, heck, even Pepsi cards to collect, I'm fine with that.


Whose Kershaw? JK. LOL. I only like Coke with Makers Mark and a wee bit of ice. Otherwise it's Coffee (black), Mountain Dew, and decaffeinated unsweet tea. How's that for a combo.
Nick said…
I like to think I don't have a ton of vices, but Coke remains one of them. I've cut down a bit since my teenage years - still drink way more than I probably should. And I can't imagine how much more I'd buy if they came with CARDS!
This post got me all excited about 1981 Coke cards and I wanted to jump over to COMC to shop for more... but I've already filled all of my wants. Maybe I'll just go poke around and see what oddballs there are to see.
Mike Matson said…
Of all those cards I think I want/need one.. Terry Puhl..
Nick Vossbrink said…
WOW. Hot damn. I wan to go and grab at least one from each set now.

Also. 11 teams of 11 cards plus 11 checklists makes an even 132-card sheet right? Maybe Topps didn't want to print two sheets of Coke cards. Or, seeing no teams west of Houston, maybe Coke was only doing this on the eastern half of the US.
Unknown said…
I always thought it was cool how Bob Molinaro's regular 1981 Topps card showed him about to pop a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth, but the tobacco was airbrushed out of the Coke card.
bryan was here said…
I've always been a Pepsi guy myself, but I ended up completing the Coke sets with the Astros team set purchase a few months ago. I didn't even realize I had all of them until I was organizing my '81 cards recently. I thought I still needed the Royals and Tigers, but it turns out I had them. I think I got them when someone had an eBay auction of each team set and I won several of those auctions, most with a $1 bid.
Fuji said…
A. I grew up a fan of Sprite, which meant I was a Coke guy by default. These days, I don't drink a lot of soda. When I do, I'll usually grab a bottle of Jarritos.

B. I've drooled over several of your posts over the years. Add this one to the list.

C. Never knew that Kirk Gibson had a Coke version of his rookie card. Very cool. I'm surprised that you once owned a graded copy in your collection.
GCA said…
I've had experience with kidney stones, so I really should cut way down on my dark drinks - sodas, teas, etc. and substitute lemonades and clearer ones.
I like the exotic flavors the best - Cherry Pepsi, Black Cherry, Pineapple, Cream Soda. But I'll drink either Coke or Pepsi at a restaurant.

The beauty of 80's oddballs is that you don't have to worry about all of them ending up graded Gem Mint 10 and costing $238,384 any time soon.
Johngy said…
Great post!
I also love Coke, but I allow myself to drink limited amounts. It's one of my few real vices.
Anonymous said…
I've got 3 of the "81 Coke Yaz. Don't think I'd part with any