The 1980 Topps baseball set is probably best known for the Rickey Henderson rookie card, but another fascinating piece of hobby history is the number of retail promotions that Topps had that year. Topps distributed 3-card cello packs with Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup, Squirt, and Kmart in the United States and 3-card cello packs of OPC cards with Hunts bread in Canada. Topps also partnered with Burger King on two sets; a Collector’s Series referred to as the 1980 Topps Burger King Pitch, Hit, & Run set and a 1980 Topps Burger King Phillies-specific set. Collectors also found 1980 Topps cards in issues of Dynamite Magazine.
There is another set related to the 1980 Topps set that I won’t include in this article because it was never released; the 1980 Topps Pepsi-Cola All-Stars prototype cards. But stay tuned to the blog for a dedicated article about this incredible set.
1980 Topps Mrs. Butterworth’s
The Mrs. Butterworth’s, Squirt, and Kmart partnerships were all the same; 3-card cello packs with a header card. The cards were standard Topps cards, and every card from the set was possible, so I think you can find them with any player showing. The promotion was limited to specific states and specific stores.
These cellophane-wrapped packs came as point-of-sale items with the purchase of Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup. The header card featured single-season and career major league records on the back.
Recently, on Facebook, a collector shared a really cool Butterworth’s purchase that included a ton of packs, the original store display, a poster advertising the cards, and three full boxes of 60 packs each.
Interestingly, the inside of the boxes appears to have been leftover stock from Topps’ Black Hole issue. Topps probably used whatever material they had left since the boxes were never intended for sale.
1980 Topps Squirt
The header on the Squirt promotion featured lifetime .300 hitters. Naturally, the packs came with the purchase of Squirt soda.
1980 Topps Kmart
I read from a collector that the Kmart cellos came with the purchase of an ICEE drink. These headers featured players with 3000-or-more hits.
1980 Topps/OPC Hunts Bread
Topps’ partner, OPC, did a similar promotion with Hunts bread in Canada for 3-card cellos. Four headers were available, each unnumbered, one for players with 3000 hits, one for lifetime .300 hitters, one for lifetime home run hitters, and another for major league records.
1980 Topps Burger King Pitch, Hit & Run
Burger King distributed these cards as 4-card packs (3 player cards and an unnumbered checklist) at their stores (other than in Philadelphia) with the purchase of large fries. The cards have the same basic design as regular 1980 Topps cards but with a more limited checklist of 34 cards (33 plus the checklist header). A few cards used a different photo than the base 1980 set. Also, the Burger King logo was added to the front along with the words “Collector’s Series.” The cartoon on the back was replaced with the Burger King Logo and the Pitch, Hit, & Run slogan for a promotion MLB’s Youth Program was running for kids aged 8-13. Burger King also had registration forms available for these local competitions (the winner of which got to go to a 1980 World Series game).
1980 Topps Burger King Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia stores didn’t carry the Pitch, Hit, & Run cards because a specific set was designed for Eastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware stores featuring the Phillies. In these stores, collectors would get a pack of three cards and an unnumbered checklist with the purchase of a large order of fries. The cards in the 23-card set (22 cards and the unnumbered checklist) again have very similar designs as the base 1980 Topps baseball cards, but the backs feature the Burger King logo.
Sports Collectors Daily has an excellent article about the two 1980 Burger King sets if you’re looking for more information. Neither of the Burger King sets is particularly expensive.
Scholastic Inc. published Dynamite Magazine, and in 1980 a 6-card panel of 1980 Topps cards came bounded inside.
Topps developed these collaborations to help boost product sales. I have no idea whether it worked, but Topps continued retail partnerships in 1981 with Squirt and Coca-Cola and in 1982 with Coca-Cola, Cracker Jack, Drake’s, and Kmart. It may have been a plot to differentiate themselves from new-starts Donruss and Fleer, or maybe, since Topps did promotions before 1980, it worked really well! Happy collecting!