Pac-Man and Sunbeam Bread
Before my mother became obsessed with forcing whole wheat bread on us in a vain attempt to make our home healthier, we ate mostly Wonder Bread. For years with no variation, we would buy a fluffy loaf of the stuff whenever we went to the supermarket. Changing that habit would take a perceived health crisis (see wheat bread) or the appearance by a ghost-chasing dot-chomping phenomenon.
When Pac-Man fever struck, I fell hard for the little yellow guy. In addition to playing Pac-Man as often as possible, I also wanted to surround myself with Pac-Merch. An easy and affordable outlet for that desire were packs of Pac-Man Stickers and Ruboffs that were sold by Fleer.
Pac-Man Stickers and Ruboffs appeared in a store near my house and were a huge hit among me and my friends. For 25 cents a pack, you would get three stickers, three rub-off maze games, and one stick of bubble gum. It didn’t take long for Pac-Man stickers to not just be stuck on every surface I owned, but also on any neighborhood surface that would hold a sticker.
The initial wave of these cards came in distinctive Pac-Man Yellow packets for the first year. Then for some reason that puzzled my friends and I they would switch the packaging to white and blue. After buying a few packs we noticed some differences in the stickers. I am guessing Fleer decided to improve on the original product. Whatever their reasoning, it caused a new buying frenzy. Before I knew it I had a shoebox full of stickers and used scratch-able mazes.
You would think that would be enough, but it wasn’t. While visiting family members one summer, we went to the local supermarket to do some food shopping and I spotted Pac-Man on a product my family had never bought before, Sunbeam Bread. Studying the bag more closely revealed that these stickers looked A LOT like the stickers that I was currently so passionate about.
So after an embarrassing amount of begging, a loaf was purchased and a sweet and I am pretty sure non-unique sticker was in my grubby paw. I treated it like treasure until I got home and could show it off to my friends. I am fairly sure that I pleaded with my mother to buy more bread since the package said that 24 Pac-Man stickers were available. My mother was wise and frugal enough to not indulge me any further.
Since it looked very much like the Fleer cards we all already had, the reception was tepid, but it did cause a spike in bread interest in our local Acme supermarket. When we didn’t find any Sunbeam, the bread and card were quickly forgotten.
Later in life, I would find Sunbeam bread at many of the stores I shopped at. Whenever I see it, I think of how my obsession with a little yellow video game character would briefly determine what kind of bread my family ate, just so I could get a sticker.
I have been looking online for some inkling of this Sunbeam Pac-Man offer for years. What I would like is one of the stickers so I could compare them in detail to the Fleer stickers and see which version of the stickers it matches. I have not been able to find one, but I was able to find this great commercial. It has some great but blurry shots of the stickers, but also some wonderfully simple Pac-Man animation.