History of Topps Baseball Cards
From a candy company to perhaps the best alternative to the stock market, Topps has been the headliner of the baseball card world for a while, beating out competitors and creating a new demand for cards. Here's how Topps created the card company that exists today.
Topps started out back in 1890 as American Leaf Tobacco by Morris Shorin. Shorin's company imported tobacco to the United States and sold it to other tobacco companies. It was a relatively successful company, until the plight of World War One shocked the planet. Shorin's company was cut off of it's supply from Turkey, sending the company into despair. His four sons, Abram, Ira, Philip, and Joseph picked up the scraps of the company by using the existing channels of distribution to start a candy company. They changed the name to "Topps", because they wanted to be the tops in their field, and introduced the penny gum Bazooka Bubblegum.
Looking to increase their sales, the Shorin son's packaged their gum with trading cards
starting in 1949. This was a set of 252 called Magic Photos. The cards were very small, measuring 7/8" by 1-7/16" and appeared to be blank. Once exposed to the sun, the cards would appear in a sepia tone. Only 19 cards in the set were of baseball players, but they were heavy hitters. Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, and Christy Mathewson headlined the set.
Moving to 1950, Topps used their Bazooka gum for promotions for the TV show "Hopalong Cassdy" which was one of the most successful shows at the time. This paved the way for other pop culture sets like Pokemon and Garbage Pail Kids.