Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Bee Hive of Activity

The official name of the company was the St. Lawrence Starch Company Ltd. This business venture got it's start way back in 1889 and operated out of Port Credit, Ontario. However, it isn't the company name that is fondly remembered by hockey fans. Rather, they could readily identify with one of their products - Bee Hive Golden Corn Syrup. You ask "What did this product have in common with hockey starved Joe Public?" Well, back in the 1930s the labels and tops of this grocery-stable were like gold. By completing a coupon and forwarding a label/top, an individual could receive a photograph of their favourite NHL star.

The initial pictures were snapped in Maple Leaf Gardens and included a number of Toronto players. Montreal Canadiens were also part of the first offering.

Most of us are familiar with the photo offer, but there were several other products which could be ordered.

The above ad pertains to one such offer - a hockey star label pin. The piece was a 3/4-inch photo of a player in a jewellery setting. The photo was attached to a "gold" lacquered  hockey stick. This would have been mailed to you in exchange for a .25-cent coin and one Bee Hive Syrup label or top.

During the 1940s there were interruptions related to the offers due to the war and a shortage of corn. The photo offer lasted until 1967. The Bee Hive collection is a wonderful archive which visually documents the players from the Original Six era. Similar to the Golden Age of Hockey, economic changes resulted in the demise of the promotion. The new NHLPA demanded, rightfully, that it's members share in the profits. The hockey fan, with the advent of television, sought out colour photographs of their heroes. These could easily be obtained by purchasing hockey cards.

There are still many wonderful examples of the Bee Hive photographs and associated products in the marketplace for hockey fans to purchase and enjoy. Although, it will cost you a ton more than a label.

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