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Ranking the cereal set of my youth

I'm currently taking a forced break from my pursuit of Kellogg's cards.

I'm in the middle of trying to collect the 1979 Kellogg's set. I struck out in attempting to purchase the entire set, as I had with 1980, because there's been a run on Kellogg's cards all year. So I've gone the card-by-card route, which has been more successful, but still frustrating in this "suddenly people care about these cards" world. And now the pursuit has ground to a halt thanks to limited cash flow, always an issue in August.
Before the Kellogg's sabbatical I had accumulated several '79s through various auction purchases last month. Here is that group:

But now a few '79 Kellogg's cards are languishing in online carts and it's difficult to keep the panic from welling up inside as I envision collectors plucking those wonderful 3-Ds out of my unattended basket.

Still, I can distract myself from that terrible scenario by playing with the cards that I have!

So in keeping with Vintage Week (yes, it's now capitalized), I've decided to rank all of the Kellogg's 3-D sets that came out when I was youngster, those ones from 1970-83. Some of those cards aren't what I consider vintage, but this week will not be All Vintage All The Time.

There are 14 sets to rank (I am excluding the '72 All-Time Greats series) and I love just about all of them -- even the ones that are just OK are vastly more enjoyable than anything being marketed today -- so it's a little difficult to place one ahead of the other.

But card ranking is not for the weak! So let's plow forward, like a spoon through Frosted Flakes:

14. 1973 Kellogg's

In a 2-D world, 1973 Kellogg's can match just about any other food issue ever created. The design is colorful, sharp and it's full of honorary symbols for the player, stars, a ribbon and a giant badge surrounding the subject. But '73 Kellogg's is the weak link in the food issue's catalog as it's evidence of waffling, that Kellogg's thought "maybe this 3-D thing isn't working." And why would Kellogg's ever think of such a thing?

13. 1981 Kellogg's

The '81 Kellogg's set has a lot going for it for those who like their cards regulation size, a little more sturdy and with the ability to power an apartment complex for the night. But 1981's super-yellow cards have never done it for me. The size doesn't measure up to my idea of a Kellogg's card, which is "smaller." I should like them because the card stock used helped prevent the vexing cracking that continues to plague my 3-D collection. But I can't get past that you could not pull these cards individually out of a cereal box.

12. 1983 Kellogg's

The '83 Kellogg's set is the last from this era and also the dullest. Only the first and last Kellogg's sets from 1970-83 contain white borders with no inner color border. Outside of the 3-D feature and being able to shove my arm into cereal to find a card, the colorfulness of Kellogg's cards was what made them so appealing to me. The '83 cards are also the skinniest (along with 1980).

11. 1982 Kellogg's

After experimenting with yellow as the main color in 1981, Kellogg's returned to the blue color that I first knew when viewing Kellogg's cards for the first time (that would be the '74 set). There is a sense of relief with these cards as if Kellogg's knows what its history is. I'm not that crazy about the bubble border and that's an awful lot of stars that are not 3-D.

10. 1972 Kellogg's

Controversy! I'm sure some collectors have this set first -- it is one of the most familiar Kellogg's designs. But like 1966 Topps, I've never enjoyed the diagonal name sash, especially when it's in your face like in this set. It took me a long time as a kid to get used to the fact that Kellogg's did not use first names on the front and this is the most obvious example. Weirdly, I have quite a few of the cards from this set and I'm pretty pleased about it.

9. 1975 Topps Kellogg's

I have a natural bias toward '75 Kellogg's, as these are the first Kellogg's cards I saw beyond just one or two. There are also four Dodgers in this set, which is among the most for my favorite team. But, blue border aside (I just love the 3-D stars in it, too), the design is a bit dark and lifeless. Also, I'm mad at this set because I've been sniped on these cards more often in the last several months than for any other set.

8. 1974 Kellogg's

Much like 1975, except with yellow for the name and position. This was the first Kellogg's design I ever saw.

7. 1979 Kellogg's

For me, a good food-issue set contains a mix of loud colors, and '79 Kellogg's does this very well. I still hold a little bit of resentment for '79 Kellogg's because the card size shrunk this year and I felt cheated. However, I've come around and this might the best size for Kellogg's card ever. They certainly don't crack as much as some of the larger sizes.

6. 1980 Kellogg's

Even smaller than the '79s, a bit confining and there's that slash design again, but something about these appeal to me a lot. I was elated when I could buy this entire set in one shot. They really look nice.

5. 1977 Kellogg's

I hate that this set is only 5th, this is the first Kellogg's set that I was pulling out of cereal boxes. I also think the orange-and-yellow glow fits enormously well with the '70s, it's one of the most '70s card sets of all-time. The Ron Cey card in this set was everything to me. I can't say anything bad about it.

4. 1978 Kellogg's

There is a lot going on with '78 Kellogg's. A lot. But I love it all. This is the first time that Kellogg's put its brand logo on the front of the card, something that would continue through the rest of the era. That and the banners and the yellow really scream FOOD ISSUE. This is probably the set I knew the best as a young dude, pouring over every single card.

3. 1971 Kellogg's

Not as vibrant as Kellogg's would become later -- this is what detracts from the earlier sets for me -- the '71 set still has a whole bunch going for it. It added some much-needed color after the 1970 set with the first blue borders for a Kellogg's set and the memorable red star. Long before those All-Star position stars in Topps there was one in Kellogg's! These are appealing cards.

2. 1976 Kellogg's

I went back and forth between No. 1 and No. 2 over which set should be ranked first. I like the '76 set a lot, probably better than I like the one that's ranked first. It's one of the most time-appropriate sets of all-time (the '76 and '77 Kellogg's sets are among the most representative back-to-back sets for a particular era ever) with it's red, white and blue bicentennial look. The cards are beautiful when featured together. It's a classic, and it doesn't look like any other Kellogg's set. On another day, I'd put this set first.

1. 1970 Kellogg's

I know a lot of old-timers put this Kellogg's set first, and maybe because it's Vintage Week, I'm doing the same. The '70 Kellogg's set is a little dull to me, but you can't deny that floating baseball (maybe a little big?) and the simple white-border frame. The players are featured in close-up shots and with all that photo acreage, you can really get a view of the 3-D background image. Kellogg's hit it out of the park with its first attempt (even if the super-rare 1968 Topps 3-Ds went with the design first and actually included colors in the design).

There you go. That ranking will tide me over for a little bit.
Oh, here are three more '79s that arrived just before I shut everything down:

My hope is that I finish the '79 Kellogg's set by the end of the year -- it shouldn't take me that long but that's what I'm dealing with here. I'd love to make more progress on '75, too, but my expectations are way low there.

Someday nobody will remember these great 3-D cards and won't care. Let's just hope I'm still alive and collecting cards.


I know you meant to type 1975 Kelloggs, not Topps, especially since you'd never rank 1975 Topps lower than #1 in any favorites list.

I like the 1970 set best, too.
night owl said…
You know I knew I did that, too, and forgot to go back and fix it.
John Bateman said…
Surprise, Surprise - did not think 1970 would be number 1 - A little plain looking even though it is the oldest set.

I always thought Kellogs sets got worse as time went on (after 1971). Except for a jump in 1978-1979.

I would of went 1971 Kelloggs as the number 1 set. They always seemed the most 3-D(ish background) to me.

They next tier would have been 1972, 1974, 1978, 1979 - Kelloggs works with Blue.

Would have thrown 1970, 1976, 1977, to the back.

1983 seems like the worst set followed by 1973 then 1981.

I think Kelloggs cards had a quick peak 1971 and 1972 with a slow fall all the way down to 1983.

It kind of mimics Topps cards during this period except at the end where 1983 Topps was a high riser.
Nick said…
I think '76 is my favorite - surprisingly I've never given much thought to how I'd rank the Kellogg's sets. '73 is probably at the bottom for me as well, but '83 doesn't appeal to me much either. I'm probably one of the few who likes '81 (they look way nicer in a binder) but definitely understand why they don't appeal to everyone.
I've been too focused on other stuff this year at least lately and haven't put much effort into my Kellogg's. Hmm, what to do? lol.
Fuji said…
I love ranking posts and actually attempted this a year or two ago. Never could establish the middle of the road sets. I'd pick one way one day... and the list would be completely different a few days later.

But #1 was always 1970... and 1973 was always my least favorite.

1976 and 1978 was also high on my list. Two sets I would have ranked higher are the 1979 and 1981 designs. I like the colorful 1979 set... and there's something about bright yellow borders and baseball cards that go together in my book.
sg488 said…
1976 was always my favorite because it celebrated the bicentennial and Topps didn't.
ned said…
Love the 70s in general and the Kelloggs in particular ,the 1973s were the first I ever dug out of a box and I wish some company would 3-Dize them cause they coulda been a contenderbut my fave is 1970 because they are the most 3d of them all.
gregory said…
So much cereal goodness in one post. Vintage Week is shaping up to be way better than Greek Week or Restaurant Week or any other "Week" that's out there. Keep the great content coming!
Brett Alan said…
If I ever realized/learned that Kellogg's never used the players' first names on the front, I forgot! I've noticed that certain years didn't have them, but I didn't realize it was true through the whole run. (The 1972 Baseball Greats set does have first names on the front.)
Jon said…
I didn't grow up with them, but '73 is my favorite year for the Kellogg's.
Jafronius said…
Fun list, thanks!