204 East 15th Street
Eldon, Missouri 65026
Little Debbie Presidential Portrait Cards (1992)
The Presidential Portrait Cards were printed on the backs of various Little Debbie Snack Cakes in 1992, obviously as a sales promotion (it worked for me). We bought the packages of snacks, which we gave away, I don't have a "sweet tooth", and cut the cards off the back. I thought I had a complete 39 card set (Grover Cleveland was president 22 and 24, which is on a single card), until Ron Wilson of Witcraft published an article about these cards in The Wrapper. It seems that some of the media, particularly the Washington Post, in the spirit of history revision, didn't like some of the facts on the cards; and in fact there was sufficient negative press that Little Debbie printed revised cards of 10 of the presidents. However, and Ron did not mention this, apparently the revisions were not all done at the same time, as there are three separate and distinct texts on the cards of President Ford (card 38).
Armed with this article, I checked my set and my duplicates finding that I was missing several of the variations. Ron also mentioned some color variations, but did not mention that some of the cards are printed on white cardboard, others on brown cardboard. This article is an attempt to picture and discuss the set and its variations.
How many cards are in a complete set? Who knows! There are 39 base cards of 39 presidents. But I would guess there several additional color variations (possibly even an undiscovered color), and there may be additional text revisions unknown at this time. After all, one was found after Ron's article, and Ron was exceptionally thorough with his research.
I have found 5 distinct color variations. Since my stamp color identifier only lists 200 different colors, I will list them as colors 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 with examples. The only significance to these numbers is the order in which I discovered the color. There are shade variations that I have not listed, which I believe to be printing variations as the shades in the portraits vary as the shades in the facts box. The color variations I have listed do not vary significantly in the portrait area. So far, I have found no significance to the use of various colors in the fact box.
As I have seen no numbering scheme to differentiate original/revised, box color variation, and back color, I am devising my own. The format I am using will be: card number, revision, fact box color, back as follows:
Card number - self-explanatory, however there will be no card number 24 as number 22 will be used for both 22 and 24.
Revision - the letters a, b, c, and others as necessary if additional variations are found. The letter a will be used for the original design.
Fact box color - the numbers 1 through 5 (more if necessary) as in the section above.
Card back color - the letters (b)rown or (w)hite will be used.
Examples: Using Franklin Roosevelt
32a5w (original, color 5, and white back)
32a4w (original, color 4, and white back)
32b4w (revised, color 4, and white back)
Card 1 - George Washington 1789-1797
Card 2 - John Adams 1797-1801
Card 3 - Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809
Card 4 - James Madison 1809-1817
Card 5 - James Monroe 187-1825
Card 6 - John Quincy Adams 1825-1829
Card 7 - Andrew Jackson 1829-1837
Card 7aw4 is known to exist.
Card 8 - Martin Van Buren 1837-1841
Card 9 - William Henry Harrison 1841
Card 10 - John Tyler 1841-1845
Card 11 - James K. Polk 1845-1849
Card 12 - Zachary Taylor 1849-1850
Card 13 - Millard Fillmore 1850-1853
Card 14 - Franklin Pierce 1853-1857
Card 15 - James Buchanan 1857-1861
Card 16 - Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865
Card 17 - Andrew Johnson 1865-1869
Card 18 - Ulysses S. Grant 1869-1877
Card 19 - Rutherford B. Hayes 1877-1881
Card 20 - James A. Garfield 1881
Card 21 - Chester A. Arthur 1881-1885
Card 22 & 24 (single card) - Grover Cleveland 1885-1889 and 1893-1897
Card 23 - Benjamin Harrison 1889-1893
Card 25 - William McKinley 1897-1901
Card 26 - Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909
Card 27 - William H. Taft 1909-1913
Card 28 - Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921
Card 29 - Warren G. Harding 1921-1923
Card 30 - Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929
Card 31 - Herbert Hoover 1929-1933
Card 32 - Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-1945
Card 32a3w is known to exist
Card 33 - Harry S. Truman 1945-1953
Card 34 - Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953-1961
Card 35 - John F. Kennedy 1961-1963
Card 36 - Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969
Card 37 - Richard M. Nixon 1969-1974
Card 37a2w is known to exist
Card 38 - Gerald R. Ford 1974-1977
Card 38a4w is known to exist
Card 39 - Jimmy Carter 1977-1981
Card 40 - Ronald Reagan 1981-1989