Big League Chew baseball cards reprint: A nostalgic trip down memory lane

For many baseball fans and card collectors of a certain age, Big League Chew bubble gum was synonymous with America’s pastime. From the late 1970s through the 1980s, the sugary chewing gum brand inserted baseball cards featuring current MLB players into each pack, providing hours of entertainment for kids at the ballpark and beyond. While production of the original cards ended decades ago, fans’ fond memories of collecting and trading through the bubble gum wrappers never faded.

In 2021, Topps partnered with Big League Chew to produce a new series of reprint cards, tapping into massive waves of nostalgia and allowing a new generation to experience the same thrill and connection to baseball that the originals fostered. The reprints featured some of the biggest stars from the 1970s and 80s in their original uniforms and poses, painstakingly recreated from the original photographic negatives to preserve the authentic vintage aesthetic.


Nostalgia was a major driving factor behind the reprint set. For many adults who collected the original Big League Chew cards as kids, the reprints offered a chance to relive those memories and share the experience with their own children. While digital cards and apps now dominate the sports card industry, there is something special about the tactile experience of opening wax packs that the reprints perfectly captured.

In addition to nostalgia, the reprints also fed the booming market for vintage sports cards and memorabilia. Original Big League Chew cards from the 1970s and 80s featuring the likes of Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Dave Winfield have increased dramatically in value in recent years as more collectors seek out relics from the “junk wax” era. The reprints satisfied demand from fans unable or unwilling to pay thousands for graded gems from three decades ago.

The reprint set totaled 100 cards and spanned the entire decade of Big League Chew’s original run from 1977-1986. Rookies of Hall of Famers like Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs appeared alongside established superstars like Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, and Rickey Henderson. Each card featured the original photo and design elements faithfully replicated to trigger waves of nostalgia. Subtle modernizing touches like a Topps logo paid homage to the original while distinguishing the reprints from counterfeits.


Distribution was also designed with nostalgia and childhood memories in mind. Rather than traditional wax packs, Topps packaged the reprints as they would have originally appeared – sealed in foil wrappers resembling the gum pouches of yore. This packaging choice was a big part of what made finally getting to open “packs” of the reprints such a thrill for collectors of a certain age. Nostalgia was the driving force, but the quality of the reprints also ensured they would stand on their own as desirable additions for any baseball card collection.

While the reprints satisfied demand and nostalgia, the original Big League Chew cards also continued increasing in value. PSA 10 and BGS 9.5 graded gems of stars like Nolan Ryan routinely sell for thousands on the secondary market. The affordable and readily available reprints allowed more fans to enjoy the designs and players without shelling out small fortunes. For collectors, both originals and reprints have found enthusiastic audiences.


In the oversized sports card and memorabilia market of today, niche products that tap into nostalgia always seem to find an audience. By faithfully recreating the designs, photos and packaging of the original beloved Big League Chew baseball cards, Topps’ 2021 reprint set was a massive success. Whether opening packs for the thrill of the hunt or simply admiring the vintage designs and stars of a bygone era, the reprints gave baseball fans both young and old a fun trip down memory lane. While the originals remain highly valuable collector’s items, the affordable reprints ensured the experience could be shared with future generations as well.

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