Friday, November 20, 2020

Coca-Cola or Coke

A week or so ago I found this 1981 Topps Coca-Cola Kent Tekulve card in a dime box at a card shop and picked it up. I don't think I have any other 1981 Coca-Cola cards and I don't think I'm alone in having a soft spot for Tekulve.

On a subsequent trip to the card shop I noticed that they had packs of 1981 Topps Coca-Cola Pirates for 95 cents and I decided I would pick up a pack or two the next time I went. When I went to get the 1954 Bowman set at the shop on Veterans Day I was looking around and on a different shelf I found this.

Whoever wrapped this up and labeled it referred to the Coca-Cola set as a Coke set. Likely to save room on the label, but maybe its a play on the Pittsburgh drug trials which would take place a few years after this set was produced. but only Dave Parker was the only player in the set that was part of those proceedings. My guess though is that it's just because nobody says Coca-Cola. Everybody just says Coke.

Complete set including two header cards for 50 cents. Lots of star power on this Pirates team. Bill Madlock, Dave Parker, and Willie Stargell. I wish they had the other teams. 

A couple of questions for everyone out there. I was born in 1981, so how were these distributed? Anybody have this or any of the other teams? Do you ever refer to it as Coca-Cola or just Coke? 


  1. That's an awesome Tekulve. The hat, the action shot, and the Coca-Cola logo all look very nice in combination.

  2. Like the Burger King issues and a few other Topps sets of that era, these were given out in packs with a purchase. Each pack included a "header" card with text on the front and an offer to buy an uncut Topps sheet on the back, and I think 3 cards but I'm not sure about the number. It was a regional issue, meaning if you were in Pittsburgh you'd get Pirates cards, in Cincinnati you'd get Reds, and so on. Only 11 teams were included. Both Chicago teams were included, but there are separate header cards so I guess you got one or the other.

    I'm guessing they also sold a good amount directly to dealers, as these weren't hard to obtain. I bought the whole set at a show that year.

    I think most people use "Coke" and "Coca-Cola" pretty interchangeably. Indeed, on the back of the cards you'll see a note saying "'Coke' and 'Coca-Cola' are trademarks...."

  3. According to baseballcardpedia they were distributed regionally in Coke products. They didn't make any Bay Area teams (at least I don't think they did), so I didn't actually collect them back in 1981. I've since picked up the Washington Redskins set, because it has an Art Monk rookie card. As for the name... I usually call it Coke.


  4. I picked up the Red Sox Coca-Cola set a few years ago. What was interesting is that it included updated cards for Carney Lansford and Frank Tanana, but different photos than were used in the Trade set.

  5. I knew these cards existed, but haven't ever seen them in 9-pocket pages like this. Pretty cool. Good bargain you got there, too!

  6. The late '70s/early '80s Coke and Burger King sets mean as much to me as the Fleer Box sets do to younger collectors. I adore them. I have the '81 Coke set for the Astros and Phillies and the '82 Coke set for the Red Sox. Plus a few randoms. I'd like to get them all. They were fascinating to collectors who didn't have the wide variety of choices (Upper Deck, Score, Donruss, Pinnacle, etc) that later collectors did.

    As far as Coke or Coca-Cola, I think pretty much everyone around here says "Coke".