Some days I like to appreciate the simple things in life... like these original Bee Hive photos.
During the mid-1930's, the St. Lawrence Starch company created a consumer promotional in order to help sell more of their products (think of something like Tim Hortons Roll Up The Rim).
These types of consumer-focused initiatives were quickly being adopted across many companies in Canada, as this idea was originally born out of the cigarette card era that crept into Canada at the start of the 1900's.
What followed was one of the longest consumer promotions in Canadian history, spanning from 1934 to 1968, harvesting many memories from collectors of that time period.
The 5" x 7" oversized photos were mounted on thin, coloured paper matte, giving the photo a distinct look that would later be synonymous with the brand for years to come.
These NHL hockey player photos were used to promote many types of products, but the "Bee Hive" name originated from their line of Bee Hive Corn Syrups, a product that saw the largest increase in sales from this promotion. This stuck with the set long-term, hence the Bee Hive set and card name.
Early Bee Hive NHL player photos were attached on coloured backgrounds like red, blue and beige. Some of the later photos in the 60's were mounted on a "wood grain" design.
After sending in proof of purchase, collectors could choose any active player availible for a photo of that player, which made some players more common or rarer than others.
These Bee Hive photos were split into 3 groups over the course of it's impressive 30-year life cycle:
Group 1: 1934-1945
Group 2: 1947-1964
Group 3: 1964-1968
Over the course of 3 decades, there were 1,025 unique photo cards represented inside the Bee Hive photo set. A mammoth-like size for a set, that's for sure.
BeeHive Makes A Return With Upper Deck
36 years after the original promotion had ended in 1968, Upper Deck acquired the rights to the Bee Hive name and went on to create Upper Deck BeeHive in 2004, a standalone boxed product to celebrate the history of this promotion, bringing back some of the old designs with a modern twist on this Canadian classic.
Upper Deck even brought back the notable 5" by 7" oversized cards, which I was a big fan of. I still remember walking into the variety store looking for the oversized packs of UD BeeHive, which were painfully easy to spot on the shelf.
UD BeeHive released during the 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07 NHL seasons, a product that became a big hit with collectors at the time.
Do you have any BeeHive photos or cards in your collections? If so, they might have more history than you think.
Author - Aaron
I've been collecting Hockey cards since the late 90's. Mainly the goalies since 2005. I also Co-Host a Hockey Card Podcast.
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