Dorri Partain 
Assistant Editor 

Nanu, nanu!  Move over baseball cards, for collectable cards featuring television shows and movies.

Commonly called trading cards or “bubble gum cards”, Topps Chewing Gum Co. began producing the cards to increase the sale of bubble gum. In 1949, a 252-card Magic Photo card set included 19 cards featuring baseball players; the cards were blank until they were moistened and exposed to light.

Capitalizing on the popularity of the photo cards, Topps Chewing Gum Co. produced a baseball card game in 1951, packaged with a piece of taffy. The following year, Topps executive Sy Berger sat down at his kitchen table and developed the proptypes for a new set of baseball trading cards, featuring the player’s photo, team logo, and simulated autograph on the front and the player’s biography and statistics on the reverse. The resulting 407-card set sold for five cents per six-card package, wrapped in wax paper along with one stick of bubble gum.

Following the popularity of the first Stars Wars movie and all its related merchandise– including Topps trading cards– the company produced various series of cards using images from those productions. Bearing the 1978 copyright from Paramount Pictures Corporation, Topps produced a 99-card series using images from the ABC network series Mork & Mindy.

Starring Robin Williams (1951-2014) as alien “Mork from Ork”, the series debuted on Sept. 14, 1978. Actress Pam Dawber played Mindy McConnell, a young single woman who befriends Mork after encountering him emerging from his egg-shaped spacecraft. The series lasted 4 seasons, going from top in the ratings to the bottom, when the last episode aired May 27, 1982.

By 1979, the series had spawned a vast array of merchandise, from t-shirts and posters, to board games and Mork dolls. Packaged in sets of ten cards, with one sticker and a stick of bubble gum, the card’s flip side had either a 25-card puzzle or The Orkan Reader, featuring Mork-style jokes, such as:

Health Nut: My doctor says I need more iron. What do you recommend?

Mork: Eat your toaster!

The wax paper wrapper still bears the Woolco department store price sticker for 20 cents.