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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fro-joy Ice Cream Cards

We’ve seen baseball cards commonly packaged along side of tobacco, caramel, and bubble gum, and for one short week in 1928, thousands of Americans received limited edition Babe Ruth cards along with their ice cream. From August 6th through the 11th, children who purchased Fro-joy ice cream cones received free small pictures of the legendary Babe Ruth. These small cards measured 2 1/16" by 4", and for six days in a row, people across the country visited their nearest Fro-joy dealer in order to acquire all six Ruth picture cards. The cards featured black and white photos, along with a short caption on the front, and an ad for Fro-joy ice cream on the back.


Fro-joy ice cream container
Why collect a complete set of six Ruth picture cards? Individuals with complete sets of six were encouraged to mail them to the General Ice Cream Corporation in Schenectady, New York on or before August 25th, 1928. In doing so, one would receive a larger, premium Babe Ruth photograph which measured 8 ½ by 12”. However, instead of returning the six original Babe Ruth images along with the larger photo, General Ice Cream Corporation set out a new, uncut sheet of the six original images, printed on cheaper card stock. Aside from the cheaper card stock, the cards were nearly identical to the originals. However, also included on the new sheet of cards was instructions on how to cut apart the new six cards, as well as a longer advertisement for Fro-joy Ice Cream. The original six pictures were never returned.

Un-cut cards and Babe Ruth image issued by General Ice Cream
For over eighty years now, these cards have created controversy across the country. When they first issued these Babe Ruth cards to thousands of Americans, I think that it is safe to say that General Ice Cream Corporation had little clue how much controversy could stem from a seemingly innocent advertising campaign. However, printing the six cards on a single page of poor quality card stock, opened the doors to counterfeiters and profit seekers all over the country, as it made the cards easy to reproduce. These fakes integrated themselves into the card market and into the homes of unknowing collectors.

It is estimated that millions of Fro-joy ice cream cards exist today, but the underlying question remains, how many of the cards are real? Sources speculate that 99% of Fro-joy ice cream cards that are deemed real are actually counterfeit. In fact, it has gotten so out of hand that numerous grading companies refuse to authenticate cards from this set.

Fro-joy Reprint Cards available at DeansCards.com
So how does one spot a fake? Some cases are easier than others. If you come across an uncut sheet of color images of Babe Ruth, it is almost guaranteed that it is not an original sheet produced by the General Ice Cream Corporation. The 1928 Fro-joy ice cream cards were printed and issued only in black and white. Thus the color cards are counterfeit. Black and white fakes are much harder to detect, as they appear to be exact replicas of the originals. At this point in time, even counterfeit replica cards printed in the 70’s are going to show wear, and in turn, look much more real to collectors. Thus, unless you’re able to scrutinize the originals and fakes under a microscope and see differences in paper stock, ink, and printing techniques, we advise that you use caution in purchasing “authentic” Fro-joy ice cream cards.

DeansCards.com does not carry original Fro-joy cards at this time, but if you would like to purchase Fro-joy Reprint Card Sets, please visit our website at DeansCards.com