Sticking With It: 1974-75 Sugar Daddy Cards

By Doug Koztoski

Beach activities can vary like the different kinds of seashells the surf brings to shore: flicking a Frisbee, strolling along the water’s edge, riding waves, searching for coins and jewelry using a metal detector or relaxing on a towel, to name just a little red bucketful.

As a 10-year-old in the summer of 1974, Jason Schlossberg and his two brothers spent part of their time combing Compo Beach in Westport, Conn., trying to find sports cards. They searched for the pasteboards people dropped after they opened up the wrapper of a Sugar Daddy to enjoy a bit of a tasty tug-of-war with some caramel-on-a-stick.

HASugardaddiesSchlossberg and his siblings devoured their share of many a Sugar Daddy that summer, too, picking up some cards that way, but it was the other people who just let their cards land in the sand that helped the trio really pad their collection.

“We had three, four, five sets of them,” he said. “And we traded them like regular baseball cards.”

Most of Schlossberg’s Nabisco Sugar Daddy cards from childhood did not survive in better condition, so over the past few years he assembled high-grade versions of the football, hockey and basketball players.

“It’s a cool, fun set,” the hobbyist said of the 1974 issue. “I am four cards away from a perfect (PSA 10 Gem Mint) set.”

In terms of size, the Sugar Daddy cards are similar to the tobacco-era classic T206 set. There are two reasons for the smaller design: for packaging purposes, the cards could not be wider than the candy, and they were made for placement on a poster from a mail-in offer.

As for looks, the caramel cards are reminiscent of the 1938 Goudey “Heads-Up” collection, where a photo of the players’ head sits atop a cartoon-like image of their body.

Schlossberg’s favorites from the 25-card 1974 offering include Jo Jo White of the Boston Celtics, NFL types Bob Lilly and Jim Plunkett, “and the hockey ones.”
Nabisco issued a comparable set via its Sugar Daddy product in 1975, with some of the same players from ’74, including Roger Staubach and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the offering’s bookends for each year.

The 1974 Sugar Daddy cards are similar to T206 cards in size, and the cartoon-sized heads are reminiscent of the 1938 Goudey “Heads Up” cards. Cards courtesy of Jason Schlossberg.

The 1974 Sugar Daddy cards are similar to T206 cards in size, and the cartoon-sized heads are reminiscent of the 1938 Goudey “Heads Up” cards. Cards courtesy of Jason Schlossberg.

Shaking it up a little
Both 25-card groups start with 10 football players, followed by six from hockey, and then finish with a block of mostly hoopsters. One of the distinctive parts within these two sets is that card No. 22 in each of them, in the heart of the basketball section, resides a hockey player. In 1974, No. 22 is Mickey Redmond, and in 1975 Don Awrey fills that same slot. Perhaps the biggest NHL name in both sets is No. 11, Phil Esposito.

The easiest way to tell the sets apart is the ’74s have a solid front background, while the ’75s, often referred to as “The All-Stars,” have a striped “shield” behind the athletes. Card backs on both give a few stats and some biographical details.

Eric Wells bought an oddball football lot of vintage cards through a Huggins and Scott auction a few years ago and it included sets of the 1974 and 1975 Sugar Daddy issues.

“I like that they are multi-sport, there are not many (sets) like that,” Wells said.

An avid Pro Football Hall of Fame collector, Wells emphasized that this pair of candy offerings contains a few all-time greats from each sport. In addition to Staubach and Lilly, the Canton enshrinees from these Sugar Daddy cards are comprised of Willie Lanier, Floyd Little, Merlin Olsen and Alan Page.

“I like the obscure sets,” Wells said, “all of that stuff that is not mainstream.” The hobbyist adds that the 1974 Nabisco set also provides one of his all-time favorite basketball players, Oscar “The Big O” Robertson.

hawkinsThe Big Daddy of Sugar Daddy collectors
While Schlossberg has the top-ranked spot for 1974 Sugar Daddy on the PSA Set Registry, and Wells is highly-ranked there in both ’74 and ’75, too, Charles Norman makes the grade as one of the most comprehensive Sugar Daddy enthusiasts of all-time.

Norman has 16 different Sugar Daddy-related sets on the Registry, many of them ranked No. 1.

“They first had (newspaper) comics on the cards from 1948-53,” Norman said. From 1963-76 Sugar Daddy cards came out almost every year. “But many of the ’60s cards showed animals,” he noted.

But the mid-’70s sets find themselves among his top picks.

Sugar Daddy sports cards were issued in 1974 and ’75. The 1975 issue has a striped “shield” in the background of the card.

Sugar Daddy sports cards were issued in 1974 and ’75. The 1975 issue has a striped “shield” in the background of the card.

“The (’75) All-Stars are a little harder to find,” said Norman, compared to the ’74s. He said Chet Walker (No. 23 in both issues) in particular is difficult to locate in top shape.

The collector with the biggest sweet tooth for these sets said his favorite players among the Nabisco candy products are Chicago based: “Jerry Sloan with the Bulls (No. 17 in 1975) and Dennis Hull with the Blackhawks (No. 12 both years).”

In 1976, Nabisco produced a pair of 25-card sports sets for Sugar Daddy packs, with everything from high-profile team sports to hot dog skiing to yachting.

For many of the non-sport Sugar Daddy issues, the interest is low, Norman said, but for their sports-related collections “the popularity is pretty high.”

Schlossberg sees a solid future for the 1974 Sugar Daddy cards, his favorite of the era, and the ‘75s, too.

“I think they will keep being popular,” he said, for many reasons. One key: With the small number of cards in the sets “you can easily find them” even though, he noted, high-grade samples are challenging. Other important elements: the Hall of Famer component, the highlighting of three different major sports, plus, candy sets help generate interest.

“And, there is some Americana to Nabisco,” he said, which also elevates their collectability.

Looks like some long-term fun is in store for the caramel-on-a-stick-related 1970s sports cards, kind of like enjoying every delicious moment of a Sugar Daddy – maybe even while getting some sand between your toes.

Here is one of the 1975 Sugar Daddy hockey posters with the cards on it. Photo courtesy of Columbia City Collectibles.

Here is one of the 1975 Sugar Daddy hockey posters with the cards on it.
Photo courtesy of Columbia City Collectibles.

Pour some sugar on me
The following are the checklists for the 1974 and 1975 Sugar Daddy sets.
1974 Sugar Daddy set
o #1 Roger Staubach
o #2 Floyd Little
o #3 Steve Owens
o #4 Roman Gabriel
o #5 Bobby Douglass
o #6 John Gilliam
o #7 Bob Lilly
o #8 John Brockington
o #9 Jim Plunkett
o #10 Greg Landry
o #11 Phil Esposito
o #12 Dennis Hull
o #13 Reg Fleming
o #14 Garry Unger
o #15 Derek Sanderson
o #16 Jerry Korab
o #17 Oscar Robertson
o #18 Spencer Haywood
o #19 Jo Jo White
o #20 Connie Hawkins
o #21 Nate Thurmond
o #22 Mickey Redmond
o #23 Chet Walker
o #24 Calvin Murphy
o #25 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1975 Sugar Daddy
o #1 Roger Staubach
o #2 Floyd Little
o #3 Alan Page
o #4 Merlin Olsen
o #5 Wally Chambers
o #6 John Gilliam
o #7 Bob Lilly
o #8 John Brockington
o #9 Jim Plunkett
o #10 Willie Lanier
o #11 Phil Esposito
o #12 Dennis Hull
o #13 Brad Park
o #14 Tom Lysiak
o #15 Bernie Parent
o #16 Mickey Redmond
o #17 Jerry Sloan
o #18 Spencer Haywood
o #19 Bob Lanier
o #20 Connie Hawkins
o #21 Geoff Petrie
o #22 Don Awrey
o #23 Chet Walker
o #24 Bob McAdoo
o #25 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Doug Koztoski and The Offbeat Beat welcomes comments and questions related to this article at kozpro20@hotmail.com.

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