Dan-Dee’s Demise Met with Sadness by Snack Food, Baseball Card Fans

Snack food fans shed a tear last month when the Dan Dee warehouse in Valley View closed abruptly, signaling the end of a company that could trace its roots back in Cleveland for more than a century.

Maybe a few baseball fans saw occasion to mourn as well.

In the 1950s, as the baby boomers were in their childhood, baseball card collecting boomed. At the time, there were two competing companies, Topps and Bowman, making cards for national distribution. Along with that were a variety of regional companies, who used baseball cards as inducements to buy their product, from Hires Root Beer to Kahn’s hot dogs to Red Man chewing tobacco. Even Red Heart Dog Food made baseball cards!

At the time, Dan Dee, located on East 65th Street (its original location was on Hough Avenue, not far from the Indians’ former home at League Park), was booming, supplying potato chips and pretzels throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and Western New York. They got into the baseball card business as well, putting out a small set of 29 cards, including Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Monte Irvin and Duke Snider (and Gil Hodges, who I really believe SHOULD be in Cooperstown as well).

Because Dan Dee was based in Cleveland, there were an abundance of Indians players (as well as manager Al Lopez). A total of 14 cards included Tribe players like Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Larry Doby, Mike Garcia, Luke Easter and Jim Hegan – and there were eight cards for Pittsburgh Pirates players.

The big problem with the cards are condition. They were made of thinner cardboard than typical baseball cards – and they were put in the bags of potato chips, where grease and crumbs would rub off on them! Of course, most of the kids who collected baseball cards in that era were indifferent to keeping them in good condition anyway, preferring to play with them and show them off.

As is the case with most cards of that era, the Mantle one is the most expensive, which can run into thousands of dollars, but you can probably get your hands on most of the cards for less than $100 – if you’re indifferent to their condition.

In 1983, Dan-Dee filed for bankruptcy, and was bought by Troyer Farms the following year. They closed the facility on East 65th Street (which met its end in a fire in 2014), but maintained the name and the warehouse in Valley View – until last month.

Photo: 1954 Dan-Dee Luke Easter card

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