1950s Topps Bazooka Bubble Gum Salesman's Sample Archives (with 112 uncut Bazooka Comic Sample Proof Sheets!)

Sold For: $1,645

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 959

Item Year: 1955

Category: The Sy Berger Collection

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This is an extraordinary and unique lot related to the early history and promotion of Bazooka Bubble Gum, comprised of eight salesman's sample folders, which together include 112 small uncut sample proof sheets of Bazooka comics. These folders were provided to Topps salesmen in the 1950s to help them impress buyers with information and sample comics related to the new and exciting Bazooka brand. When Topps first introduced its Bazooka brand of bubble gum shortly after World War II, little did it realize how popular the gum would become. While the gum itself was a treat for all ages, what really put the brand over the top was the decision in 1953 to include a comic strip, titled Bazooka Joe, with each piece of wrapped gum. Not only were the comics entertaining, but they also included a premium offer that could be redeemed by sending in a specified number of Bazooka Joe comics. Somehow "Bazooka Joe" became a marketing icon ingrained in popular American culture, familiar to every kid, and instantly recognized throughout the world. Today, the antics of “Bazooka Joe” and his gang are still entertaining kids of all ages and the comic strip remains an integral marketing tool for the sale of the gum. Legendary Topps executive Sy Berger was instrumental in the development of the Bazooka Joe comic series. This group of eight salesman’s sample folders for Bazooka bubble gum, dating between the years 1955 and 1957, originate directly from Sy Berger’s personal collection. As previously noted, each folder includes numerous uncut sample sheets of Bazooka Joe comics. Four also include a company memo from Sy, printed on Topps letterhead, instructing the salesmen on the points of emphasis when pitching the product to prospective clients. As Sy writes in one of his memos from 1955, “This handy brochure is valuable when visiting a jobber and it will help drive home the point that BAZOOKA COMICS are not only twice as large as our competitors, but at least twice as funny. Don’t forget to play up the BAZOOKA flavor story, the comics, and our exclusive premium advantages as well as the hard-hitting retailer and jobber deals on every call.” In 1957 the design of the comic was changed to resemble that of an actual coupon and Sy makes note of that point in his memo accompanying the “First 1957 Series of Bazooka Comics.” In part: “One of the strongest forces leading to the tremendous growth of BAZOOKA with youngsters from Coast-To-Coast is our Bazooka Comic. It is twice the size of any comic found in any competing product, and youngsters love the knowledge that each and every Bazooka Comic has value toward the redemption of swell Free Gifts. In keeping with this, our First New Series of Bazooka Comics for 1957 takes full advantage of this with additional designed features: 1. Now every BAZOOKA COMIC is designed so that it looks like a really valuable coupon. 2. Now ever BAZOOKA COMIC has a bona fide Premium Offer on it…You can impress upon your jobbers the value of the BAZOOKA COMIC as a true explanation for the growth of his BAZOOKA sales…You’ve got a real story to tell on the BAZOOKA COMICS so don’t miss an opportunity to TELL IT!” Obviously, the marketing strategy was a huge success, for Bazooka gum remains the most recognizable brand of gum produced today. This is a rare and highly interesting look at the marketing of America’s foremost gum product by one of its founding fathers. In total, there are eight salesman’s folders (two from 1955, three from 1956, and three from 1957), each containing between twelve and sixteen uncut sheets of vintage Bazooka Joe comics, for a total of 112 sheets (with each sample proof sheet representing three to four complete unfolded comics per sheet). Excellent to Mint condition. From the Sy Berger Collection. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,645

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