Americana thrives in collection

Published 3:42 am Sunday, January 8, 2012

Card collecting isn’t all about home runs,touchdowns and rebounds.

    Occasionally, one of the big sports card manufacturers will ventureinto the area of non-sports and produce a set. Sets have beenproduced on a wide variety of topics, all with varying degrees ofpopularity.

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    For some of us, Topps’ latest effort – called “American Pie” -offers a trip down memory lane with its celebration of pop culturethrough the decades.

    Topps has brought its “American Pie” brand back after producingsome sets in the early 2000s. Individual cards in those yearsprovided informational nuggets on events like Watergate, MountRushmore and other serious fare, with celebrity trivia and the likealso in the mix.

    Judging from the box I opened recently, this year’s “American Pie”cards seem to be a little more focused on fun.

    The earliest event highlighted among the cards I received looks atthe 1930s fad of goldfish swallowing. I wasn’t around for that, butthe card said Harvard freshman Lothrop Withington Jr. often wascredited with founding the brief phenomenon.

    To me, most of the cards just serve as a testament to how far we’vecome in a relatively short amount of time.

    McDonald’s and Burger King got their starts in the 1950s.McDonald’s had made a good start on serving those “billions” by thetime I came along in 1968.

    Also in the 1960s, Sam Walton opened his Wal-Mart Discount City inRogers, Ark. I’d say that franchise has grown just a little sincethen.

    Another tid bit I gleaned from perusing my latest card collectionadditions was that the push-button phone was first soldcommercially in 1963.

    About a decade later, according to another card I got, the firsthandheld, nonvehicle mobile phone was demonstrated. It weighed 2.5pounds.

    One only has to pick up their cellphone, which weighs only a fewounces, to see how much communication devices have changed over theyears.

    The late Steve Jobs and his bunch at Apple were certainlyinstrumental in bringing about some of the change as far ascomputers and communications. Jobs is featured on at least twocards in the “American Pie” set, one highlighting Apple’s foundingin 1976 and another with Apple Macintosh computer going on sale inJanuary 1984.

    A modern twist on card sets is the inclusion of autograph cards andcards with small pieces of memorabilia used or worn by athletes andcelebrities. This year’s “American Pie” set has its share ofthose.

    It seems somehow appropriate that an autograph card of Don McLean,singer of the song “American Pie,” is included in a card set of thesame name. I won’t be going after that one on eBay, though.

    Kato Kaelin, who rose to celebrity status during the O.J. Simpsonsaga, must be signing cards now to make a buck and maybe extend his15 minutes of fame. His card is definitely not on my want list.

    One autograph card I wouldn’t mind having is Larry Thomas. You’llremember him better as the “No soup for you!” soup Nazi from thefamous “Seinfeld” episode.

    No card set would be complete without a couple of “head-scratcher”inclusions. Those are cards you get and wonder why they were madepart of the set.

    “American Pie” has a whole subset of puzzlement called “HirsuteHistory.”

    These cards take a look at hairstyles through the years. Umm, no.Instead of what style it is, I’m more interested now in keeping thehair I’ve got – even if it is turning gray.

    And I didn’t know Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift during the2009 MTV Video Music Awards had risen to the level of notableevents in American pop culture history. But there it is, card No.196 in the set.

    Of course, all the information highlighted in the cards can surelybe found via a search on Google – founded on Sept. 4, 1998,according to card No. 175. But it’s just more fun digesting theinformation as tiny slices of “American Pie.”

    That’s all for now.

    Write to Managing Editor Matthew Coleman at P.O. Box551, Brookhaven MS 39602, or send e-mail