I started building an Oddball Archive entry for the 1950 Drake’s Cookies baseball card set but had so much content that I decided it deserved its own detailed article on the blog. Collectors often overlook this set due to its scarcity since it’s a regional food issue. But, the design certainly influenced monster sets like 1955 Bowman, and influential brands used many of the photos used in the 1950 Drake’s set on other significant cards in the postwar hobby. I’ll share some of the cards and background of this fascinating oddball set in this article.
First, Drake’s is a historic American baked goods company founded in 1896 and is now a subsidiary of McKee Foods. You may know them by their popular Ring Dings and Yodel products.
Drake’s first foray into the hobby was with 64 movie star cards in a 1925 set that featured a Babe Ruth card (he was under contract with Universal Pictures). This Ruth card is incredibly scarce (PSA Pop 13) and rarely comes to market; PSA’s archives only show three sales since 2017, with the last being in March 2021 when the pictured PSA 1 sold for almost $4k at Huggins and Scott Auctions.
It seems after the rationing of sugar and shortening during WW2 came to an end, Drake’s started growing again and had a major bakery built in Long Island City, NY, towards the end of 1949. Perhaps the growth precipitated extra marketing and the development of their 1950 Cookies baseball set, but I haven’t seen anything written specially about that.
Collectors often refer to the 1950 Drake’s Cookies cards as the “TV Baseball Series.” The set has 36 2-1/2″ by 2-1/2″ cards, which is more similar to early 30s and 40s sizes than what would emerge from Topps and Bowman in the 1950s. The front of the cards say “TV BASEBALL SERIES” across the top within a deep black border. Within the TV shape is the player’s photo, in black-and-white. The backs have player details and a multi-sentence biography, followed by an advertisement for Drakes’s Cookies and the card number in the lower right corner.
The set is packed with powerhouse players, with the highest-priced cards being Snider, Campanella, and Berra, followed by Rizzuto, Reese, and Hodges.
The cards were issued regionally, one card per box of oatmeal and jumble cookies, so the condition is an issue with these cards (food, bending, targeted toward kids, etc.), and nice sets rarely come up for sale. In 2018, The #5 ranked set on the PSA Registry sold for $4800.
PSA has only graded 1098 in total, most commonly in the 4/5/6 range. There are zero PSA 10s, two 9s, and 58 PSA 8 graded 1950 Drake’s Cookie cards. The high-grade cards almost always break the 4-figure price point.
When you look at the cards, the influence of the TV design style on the 1955 Bowman set is evident. Even the backs of the 1955 Bowman set mimic Drake’s cards because they both have very long player biographies. Though, that was pretty common on sets throughout the early and mid-1950s.
There are also quite a few shared images between the 1950 Drake cards and other sets. Here are just a few examples:
The 1951 Bowman Duke Snider card shares the same image.
As does the 1951 Bowman (and 1950 Royal Desserts, and 1950 Bowman) card of Pee Wee Reese.
Even Yogi Berra didn’t have a unique photograph, as his 1950 Bowman card features the same image as his Drake counterpart.
I really like the story and look of this classic 1950s regional food oddball baseball card set. I think they look great in mid-grade, and they are scarce but not impossibly so. The set has a lot of star power, and the back of the cards features a lot of player information. Plus, the set’s relationship to the early 50s Bowman sets makes an entertaining combination. So, it’s likely I will start collecting this set this year.
If you have or are thinking about collecting this set, let me know down in the comments or over on Twitter, and happy collecting!