Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Post Sugar Crisp Railroad Emblems

Here's something a little different! Years ago, my mom used to frequent a thrift shop nearby, and she would occasionally find some nice treasures. One of the boxes she brought home had 15 little metal signs featuring various railroad emblems. I didn't know what they were or when they were made, but I thought they were very cool.

Cut to a few years later, when I rediscovered the signs while going through some boxes, and I decided to do some research. It turns out that they were given out in packages of Post's Sugar Crisp cereal from 1954 through 1955. There are a total of 28 signs (from four sets of seven) - that would involve eating a LOT of Sugar Crisp! Luckily there was also the option to send one box top and 25 cents for a set of seven emblems, alonog with a 36-page booklet about Railroad Fun. 

Here's a neat vintage ad:

Once I realized that I needed 13 more emblems to complete my set, I went on eBay and acquired the rest over a few months. The satisfaction of having a complete set is pretty great! And now I'm going to share them all with you. Here are the emblems for Set #1, including my favorite, the keystone-shaped Pennsylvania Railroad sign. I photographed the back of one sign so that you could better see the embossing. To give a sense of their size, the B&O emblem is 3 inches in diameter.

Here's Set #2. Apparently the metal dies were later (1970s) used by other companies to create reproductions, though information on them is almost nonexistent, assuming that the rumor is true. My favorite of this bunch is the Chicago and North Western System, though the Rock Island herald is pretty neat too.

Set #3 has some of my favorites, including the Southern Pacific Lines, Union Pacific Railroad, and Santa Fe. Some of these seem to cost a little more than the others on the aftermarket, I'm not sure if that is due to scarcity or desirability.

And here's Set #4. Notice the two different versions of the C&O emblem. The black and yellow design is the one that shows up on vintage Sugar Crisp ads, so perhaps the blue and yellow example is one of those repros from the 70s. 

I really get a kick out of these little tin signs; almost all of the railroad companies are gone, either out of business or absorbed by other companies. As far as I can tell, the Reading Line, Grand Trunk Western Railroad, and Union Pacific still operate in some capacity. With the ever-growing popularity of the automobile, many companies probably saw the writing on the wall by the 1950s.

I hope you enjoyed these railroad emblems from Post Sugar Crisp cereal!


andrew said...

The pictures aren't working again :(

TokyoMagic! said...

I can't see Sugar Bear! :-(

Andrew said...

Thanks for fixing the pictures. I love the idea that these could be used for a model railroad. You could pretend that certain trains were from certain lines. And all the cool kids wanted the Santa Fe emblem on their bike!

There used to be three sugar crisp bears, by the way. (I read the cereal mascots book. It was very exciting.)

Melissa said...

These are supers-cool I agree that the keystone-shaped one is particularly special, and now I’ve got “The Rock Island Line” stuck in my head. (It was on the Mike Curb Congregation 8-track we used to play on long card trips.)

When I was a kid, the C&O had become the “Chessie System,” and I used to love watching the coal cars with the cute Chessie Cat logo heading to the power plant where my father worked,

Pegleg Pete said...

Thanks, Major – these are some wonderful examples of mid-century greatness. If I'd been a child at that time, I'm sure I would've eaten nothing but Sugar Crisps until I had the whole set!

DrGoat said...

Holy cow Major. You are so fortunate your Mom pre-collected for you! Those are very cool. We used to eat Sugar Crisps and Posts Sugar Krinkles with that clown on the box.
Those emblems are a little bigger than I had imagined. Don't you just love colorful items like those when they are metal and have a little weight to them(?) I can see why you like set #3. Great Northern Railway catches my eye. I guess 'cause it's a goat. Lakawanna Railroad makes up for it's lack of color with the name Lakawanna Railroad.
Good golly Major, you have the coolest stuff. Your place must be like Sebastian's pad in Bladerunner. As Roy said, "you really have some nice toys here". Keep it coming please.


MAJOR : after my grandfather had died my uncle was clearing things out of the garage and gave me a box that had some things from Santa’s Village , some “colonial patriots “ plastic figures with Knott’s Berry Farm price tags on them and a handful of these tin mini railroad emblems. I had no idea what they were from !! Now I know!! I have seen larger aluminum Railroad signs for sale for years and at one time a vast series was available in the Walthers Wholesale Train Catalog - I figured they came from a supplier like that. I never thought they were cereal premiums. Somewhere I have about six of them - I know for sure the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe are two of them. Santa Fe merged with Burlington Northern many years ago and in parts of the West you’ll see the BNSF trains with their new striking colors.

JC Shannon said...

I have actually seen these on ebay. Collectors will pay a hefty price for one they need. So sad about passenger rail service. The great streamliners were the pride of each company. Train travel was about the journey as much as the destination. TM, if you remember Sugar Bear, you'll remember the song he used to sing. "Can't get enough of that Sugar Crisp, it keeps me goin strong." in his best Bing Crosby voice. Thanks Major.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Great collection, Major! I miss the days of cool cereal premiums.

And Cracker Jack prizes...

Stu29573 said...

My favorite, far and above all the rest, is The Katy, in set four. You see, my home town, Denison, Tx was founded by the Katy in 1872! It was considered a jumping off point on the trip West, since to the west was wilderness and to the north was Indian Territory. It was pretty wild in the early days and someone said there were more saloons and brothels than permanent houses. It was a boom town until the railroad pulled out and Perrin Air Force Base closed. Then it pretty much froze in time. However, the urban sprawl from the D/FW area is now beginning to drive house prices up again. President Eisenhower was born there, even though he grew up in Kansas. So, the Katy is pretty special. (By the way, there is still a grand Depot, Union Station, there that is used for weddings, etc.)

Melissa said...

Lakawanna Railroad makes up for it's lack of color with the name Lakawanna Railroad.

It may lack a color, but it doesn’t lack a wanna!

Anonymous said...

Major, these are very cool items.

Two of the major rail lines ran near my home way out in the country; Southern Pacific tracks were right outside the farm house, but no train ever ran there in my lifetime. Santa Fe tracks ran through all the towns close by. I remember once riding with Mom and Dad to San Francisco on the Santa Fe Superchief.

Years later, I could take the AMtrak train from a town near where I lived in far northern California and get off only a short walk from my Mom's apartment (after they moved to town).

Some of those signs are familiar too from a cookbook I have with signature recipes from major railroads. Chicken pie was featured in a lot of dining cars.


Major Pepperidge said...

Andrew and TokyoMagic!, arg, this is driving me nuts! I thought I’d dealt with the problem, but now I see that it might keep happening.

Andrew, good thing I checked the blog at 4:30 in the morning! Luckily this one only took minutes to fix. I’m not sure what I would have done with these had I been a kid in the ‘50s, but the collector in me is compelled to get the whole set. Always. I love that old commercial! 50 seconds long seems like forever now. Imagine putting cream on a bowl of Sugar Crisp cereal!

Melissa, I don’t know the Mike Curb Congregation version of “Rock Island Line”, I think the version that goes through my head; I think the version I know is from one of those British skiffle bands from the Beatles era. My mom loved Chessie the cat!

Pegleg Pete, I especially love that they are actual stamped metal. No cheap plastic here! Pretty snazzy for a cereal prize.

DrGoat, ha ha, I blame my mom for turning me into a collector! It’s fun, but kind of a curse too, you know? I think of the amount of money I’ve spent on “stuff”. But oh well! Yes, I do love that these are substantial. The little box that holds the whole set of 28 actually has some heft to it for its size. The Great Northern Railway is a good one too, and I like the Lakawanna Railroad one for the same reason as you. You’d be surprised… except for a few items, my rooms are not that crazy. An old girlfriend came over and had expected the place to look like the Disney Store, but there was nothing “Disneyland” on display!

Mike Cozart, cool that your uncle found those items at your grandfather’s home. I’m glad you now know what the deal is with the tin RR signs! If you go on eBay, there is apparently a thriving collector’s market for repro signs of all sizes and degrees of quality. Thousands. If I had a barn like Walt had, it would be fun to decorate the walls with such signs, although the snob in me would only want genuine vintage signs. A little rust is OK! I know that Santa Fe merged with the Burlington Northern, but there’s just something romantic about the Santa Fe RR!

Jonathan, it’s true, these can sometimes go for more than one might think, but with a little patience you can often find them for around $5 apiece. I was picky and didn’t want any that were very scratched up or rusty, but it didn’t seem too hard to find what I wanted in the space of a few months. I definitely remember the old “Bing Crosby” Sugar Bear!

Steve DeGaetano, I have some other cereal premiums that I will share here eventually, and even a few Cracker Jack prizes!

Stu29573, well of course you would have a fondness for the old Katy lines emblem! Makes total sense. So amazing to think of those days when there was still a “frontier”. I know I’ve mentioned it here before, but I have a school geography book from the 1870s that lists Oklahoma as “Indian Territory”, and North and South Dakota are just one giant state called “Dakota”. It’s pretty cool! I’ll have to look up the Union Station you mentioned, some of those old train stations are impressive. Los Angeles has it’s own Union Station, it’s worth a visit just to appreciate the architecture.

Melissa, some of those old logos are so plain (especially in the first batch), it makes me wonder why they didn’t have a graphic artist come in and do something nicer. They surely could have afforded it.

JG, even in Los Angeles there are train tracks where no trains have run for decades, it’s kind of weird. Of course trains are still essential for moving freight all over the country, but the automobile was just too hard to resist. Now, with Google Maps, they will often give you an estimate of the time it will take to get to one’s destination. Trains are almost always much slower due to all of the stops they have to make. Oh, chicken pot pie, my favorite!

Nanook said...

I would think if the average size of each emblem is large-enough to "..."Put them on your bike, wagon...", how could they fit on your "... electric train!"-?? I'm confused.

@ Pegleg Pete-
"If I'd been a child at that time, I'm sure I would've eaten nothing but Sugar Crisps until I had the whole set!" And gone into a diabetic coma-! They weren't kidding when the ad described the cereal as "candy-coated" & "eaten as candy". The cereal was intensely sweet.

Thanks, Major for sharing these wonderful treasures.

"Lou and Sue" said...

I don’t think you can find Sugar Crisp in the stores anymore—as I think they changed the name to Golden Crisp (as if moms are stupid).

I’m enjoying these collection posts and comments - thanks, Major!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I agree, unless you had a Carolwood-Pacific sized railroad, these metal emblems would be much too large for a model RR. And I confess that I do still buy the equivalent of Sugar Crisp cereal (it makes a great midnight snack!); as far as I can recall it tastes must the same as it did when I was a kid, and that is pretty darn sweet!

Lou and Sue, yes, it is "Golden Crisp" now. I'm surprised they don't call it "Honey Crisp", since honey seems to be an acceptable sweetener for cereal ("Honey Bunches of Oats", etc). Maybe they don't want you to think it tastes like Honeycrisp apples? Post cereals released another set of metal emblems, very much like these, only they have automobile logos on them. I have all of those, too!

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, I have a friend who named his childhood cat, "Chessie," after that railroad mascot.

JC Shannon, I hear the voice now, and of course it's a Bing Crosby impersonation! But I think that went right over my head, as a kid!

Andrew, I never knew that there were used to be three Sugar Bears. Those puppets are pretty cool. I only remember the cartoon version of Sugar Bear, and his sometime girlfriend, Honey Bear.

Major, these signs are pretty neato.....especially for cereal premiums! I'm partial to the Southern Pacific one, because my grandfather worked for the Southern Pacific for 30+ years. I have a gold 15-year service pin of his. The pin looks just like that sign/logo, but it has three pink stones (one for every five years?) where the rays of the sun are, and the number "15" where the train tracks are. I don't know what happened to the other service pins that he must have received. I think we only have that one.

"Lou and Sue" said...

There's an old Chessie train car, in my area, made into a wonderful restaurant - CHESSIE'S. Delicious food and fun atmosphere! It would make for a great GDB Christmas party!!!

Major, I hope you're going to post your automobile logos, too!

Sunday Night said...

Love these metal logos. As a kid I quickly found out the secret for getting the prize out of a cereal box as quickly as possible…open it from the bottom!

I used to have a book on Chessie the cat. It had many of the wonderful ads featuring Chessie.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Sunday Night, I just dug my hand deep down and dug all around! But your way is better.

Chuck said...

Man, why don't they have cool stuff like this in cereal boxes anymore? Great collection, Major!

TM! & Melissa, I have a railfan friend who named his cats "Chessie" & "Peake" after the famous feline and her less-well-known husband. I was always more partial to the B&O, the older of the two junior partners in the Chessie System, but I like Chessie just the same.

Stu, it's funny - I was reading about Perrin AFB earlier today! Gordo Cooper did his primary flight training there.

Stu29573 said...

One of the coolest things about being a kid there was the occasional sonic boom! Really impressive to a kid! In fact, I wanted to fly for the USAF but gave up the whole idea when I learned about their "glasses" policy! Oh well...

Omnispace said...

These are pretty cool! One would think these wouldn't appeal to kids but I was a huge train fan as a kid. Unfortunately, I guess I was eating the wrong cereal so I never remember seeing these. I did get a Tony the Tiger monorail but it didn't work very well. Thanks for sharing!

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I love that you have your grandfather’s 15 year Southern Pacific pin, that is very cool! One of my odd side-collections (there are so many!) is employee badges, some are plain, others are very nice with real enamel, 14k gold, or tiny gems like yours. My mom thought that one pin had real (tiny) diamonds, though I don’t know how one can tell for sure.

Lou and Sue, “Chessie’s” looks neat, I’d love to have dinner in an elegant antique dining car like that. In L.A. there is a restaurant that is nowhere near as fancy - Carnie’s, a burger joint built in an old train car, but it is bare-bones. Still fun though, and the burgers are good! Also, great job on making the clickable link!

Sunday Night, ha ha, I guess I was never smart enough to open the box from the bottom, but I like how craft you were!

Lou and Sue, I did the same thing!

Chuck, you can see the evolution of cereal prizes, from neat metal things, to plastic toys (some still very neat), to cheaper items like cloth patches and paper temporary tattoos. I don’t know if any cereals include prizes anymore. I definitely did not know that Chessie had a husband!

Stu29573, back in the days of Space Shuttle missions, it was always exciting to suddenly hear twin sonic booms that would shake the windows - that meant that a shuttle was returning from space to land at Edwards Air Force Base.

Omnispace, I don’t know how many kids were into trains in a big way, but I think even I would have loved to collect these beautiful little tin emblems. There were plenty of other things I liked as a kid - old postcards, my grandma’s stamp collection, old coins, seashells, minerals… why not train emblems! A Tony the Tiger monorail, you say?!

Melissa said...

Our parents made us wait until the cereal level was low enough to grab the prize without digging! Although we rarely had the prize-giving cereals to begin with.