Play Ball!! Baseball’s Opening Day Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the 2012 opening day for Major League Baseball.   In order to mark this occasion, today’s post will showcase a number of fun baseball-related candy packages.

Leaf - Play Ball bubble gum - cellophane package - 1970's

That first wrapper posted for today, is a cellophane tube-style package for Leaf’s Play Ball bubble gum – which were bubble gum balls designed to look like little baseballs.   Leaf produced these for many years, in various styles.  I have a photo of a display box from the late 70’s of these, and you can sort of make out what the gum itself looked like:

Leaf Play Ball bubble gum display box photo - 1979

Later on in the 1980’s, while Leaf still produced the larger Play Ball bubble gum, they also produced smaller boxed version, and each box contained a stats-based scratch-off game:

Leaf - Playball bubble gum box - 1984

Here’s what the scratch-off game game strip looked like:

Leaf - Playball bubble gum insert - 1984

The boxed Play Ball gum pieces each had plays written on them, but I don’t think they had anything to do with the game – I think it was just cosmetic.  I suppose one could have developed a game around the random phrases on the gum pieces, too.  Here’s a shot from a 25-year-old box I opened:

Leaf - Playball and Screwball bubble gum photos - 1980's

This same exact type of gum was found in a similar Leaf product called Screwballs, from 1986:

Leaf - Screaming Sour Screwballs - bubble gum box - 1986

Here’s one of the scratch-off cards from Screwballs – not a stats game this time, just an instant-win game:

Leaf - Screaming Sour Screwballs - scratch off game insert - 1986

Moving on from bubble gum, I want to turn the attention toward a baseball legend, and 1970’s chocolate bar icon – the Reggie Bar.   Introduced in 1978, the bar was a pretty big deal, and it sported a package that is nearly as iconic as the man himself:

Reggie bar wrapper - Curtiss - late 1970's

In 1978 Reggie Jackson was one of baseballs superstars, and the launch of the Reggie bar was lauded as a pretty big deal.  I have a copy of an old article that covered the official launch:

Reggie Bar launch article - Advertising Age - February 1978

Standard Brands was the company that launched the Reggie bar, and Curtiss was a part of Standard Brands.  I have another 70’s Reggie wrapper, this one a different shape and with a 25-cent printed-on price.  The wrapper also lacks any indication of the Curtiss name:

Standard Brands - Reggie Bar - 25-cent candy bar wrapper - late 1970's

I don’t think the Reggie bar lasted too long into the 1980’s, but it made a comeback during the baseball card collecting craze of the early 1990’s, thanks to Upper Deck, and Clark.  This time the wrapper deviated from its decidedly Wheaties-like orange and shifted to a primarily red wrapper – the new Reggie also dropped caramel from its ingredients list and instead added peanut butter:

Clark - Reggie Bar - Upper Deck - wrapper - early 1990's

The 1990’s Reggie bar is the last we saw of this 70’s classic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it made another comeback.  It’s got such great nostalgia appeal.

It’s interesting that the Clark company helped herald the return of the Reggie bar, as Clark was the official candy of the Major League Baseball Players Association during the 1970’s:

Clark - MLB 3-4 oz candy bar wrapper - 1970's

While digging through my files to find other baseball related pieces I had to pull this one, featuring a childhood idol of mine, Pete Rose:

CC_NutriSciences Inc - Pete Rose Supercharg'r Energy Bar - cello wrapper - late 1970's or early 1980's

More energy bar than candy bar, I still count this piece.   Being a ball player, Pete Rose appeared on countless gum products, though he did make a major appearance on Milk Duds in 1971, as they featured a series of trading cards on the boxes that year:

Holloway Milk Duds - MLB Pete Rose card box - 1971

I’ve got a trio of other baseball related pieces I pulled together for today.  There’s no connected narrative to go along with these last three, but they’re each notable in their way.

First up is a wrapper for the Canseco 40/40 bar.

Latin Foods International - Canseco 40-40 Bar - candy bar wrapper - 1989

Next I have a fairly simple, yet straightforward wrapper for a Cleveland Indians chocolate bar.  I suspect that the company that made this one may have made similar bars for most of the MLB teams.  This is the only one I have, though:

Seth Brauer Co - Cleveland Indians Bar - chocolate bar wrapper - 1980's

Last but not least is an offering from the Doscher company out of Cincinnati.  Known for their French Chew taffy products, which they’ve been producing for over 100 years, Doscher is also a loyal hometown supporter of their pro sports teams.  So they’ve been producing custom versions of their French Chews with team mascots on them.  I like this one quite a lot:

Doscher's Famous Cincinnati Redlegs Chew - cherry taffy candy wrapper proof - 2009

And that’s everything for my MLB Opening Day post.  I’ll be back tomorrow with Wacky Wednesdays, and will be looking forward to catching some springtime baseball soon.

Before I sign-off, I would like to take a moment to point out to new visitors that the launch article for was on Big League Chew bubble gum, and if you haven’t seen that piece, go check it out here.

About Jason Liebig

A New York City based writer, editor and sometimes actor. After spending much of the 1990′s in the comic book business helping tell the stories of Marvel Comics’ X-Men as series editor, he has since split his time between developing his own entertainment properties while still consulting and working on others. Having been described as “the Indiana Jones of lost and forgotten candy”, Jason is one of the country’s premier candy collectors and historians with his discoveries appearing in countless blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and books. Always happy to share his knowledge and unique perspectives on this colorful part of our popular culture, Jason has consulted with New York’s Museum of Food and Drink and has also been a featured guest on Food Network’s Heavyweights, France’s M6 Capital, and New York’s My Google Profile+
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