The Topps Company was founded in 1938. Their initial product was "Topps Gum", which was sold as a penny candy.
After World War II, Topps Gum became Bazooka Bubble Gum. Originally a character named Atom Bubble Boy was the mascot for this product, but he was soon replaced by the Bazooka Joe we all have grown to know and love. The miniature comic strips, wrapped around the gum and redeemable for anything from a "super-spy-scope" to Charles Atlas's latest tract, were present from the start.
In 1950, the research and development people at the Topps Company proposed that they might package their gum with trading cards in order to increase sales. Two sets of trading cards were published, one featured big game animals of Africa, the 100-card Frank Buck's Bring 'em Back Alive series, the other All-American Football. In 1952, a series of cards that commemorated the season's baseball games. It was in 1952 that baseball cards as we would recognize them today, with the player's portrait and statistics and team logo, were first included as an incentive to buy Topps' gum.
Topps has a long tradition of producing trading cards based around historic/patriotic events and entertainment events/personalities. Some of these series were:
- Freedom's War, two sets of cards, totaling 203, published 1950 (based on the Korean War)
- The Story of President Kennedy, 77 card set, published 1964
- Johnson vs. Goldwater, 66 card set, published 1964
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E., 55 card set, published 1965
- Man on the Moon, 99 card set, published 1969
- Evel Knievel, 66 card & 22 sticker set, published 1974
- Desert Storm, Desert Storm Victory, and Desert Storm Homecoming, published 1991-2
- Enduring Freedom, 90 card set, published 2001
The Topps Company has held the contract to publish trading cards based on Lucasfilm
's Star Wars series
since the release of Episode IV
. Several series were published in conjunction with each movie. Topps also holds a contract with Marvel Comics
to publish trading cards based on Stan Lee
's character properties
. They also developed their own cartoon property, a parody of the Cabbage Patch Kid
trend, the Garbage Pail Kids
, which ran to some 12 series of trading cards in the early to mid '80s.
Trading cards packages no longer contain the flat pink stick of bubble gum. However the Topps Company has continued their production of candy with the Ring Pop, the Push Pop, and the Baby Bottle Pop, among others.
Much of the above information was gathered from the Topps Company's website at www.topps.com