Today’s piece is a short tale of finding a collectible “Holy Grail” and how much fun it can be to track down something you thought you might never see.
I initially learned about the Big League Plug chocolate candy bar while doing research for my Big League Chew Retrospective piece.
The bar was first mentioned to me by Rob Nelson, the creator of Big League Chew, when I asked if there had ever been any confectionery spin-offs of his brand. He explained that, “There was a chocolate bar they tried, called Big League Plug…”
I had never heard of Big League Plug, and certainly didn’t recall ever seeing it in my youth, so I was immediately intrigued. I scoured the internet but found no mentions or images of this mythical product. Did it actually exist? Did Rob remember the name wrong? Was it only a test-marketed item?
I would eventually track down the promotional flyer image for Big League Plug which I included in the retrospective (the same image serves as today’s title image), but it would remain the only hard evidence that Big League Plug ever existed, until two months ago.
It was when I acquired the incredible L.M. Kallok confectionery collection (a huge collection of vintage candy wrappers, boxes, and related ephemera) that I found this near-mythical piece of Big League Chew history. Within that extensive collection was a piece I never expected to find; an actual Big League Plug foil pouch! And to my amazement, the look of the production packaging had changed from that shown on those earlier promotional flyers. Here it is:
As you can see, it features a modified appearance from the standard Big League Chew bubble gum pouches while still retaining that unmistakable Big League Chew look. To say that I was thrilled to find this and add it to my collection is an understatement. I was, and am, over the moon.
Big League Plug was an experiment from 1982, early in the life of the Big League Chew brand, and it was short-lived. What Amurol-Wrigley would eventually come to understand was something that Rob Nelson felt strongly about all along – Big League Chew was a special formula that wasn’t to be messed with, and you couldn’t graft its success onto a chocolate bar.
So while the experiment failed, it created an oddball bit of spin-off packaging that had become a collector’s holy grail for me, but one I can now place in the “got-it” column. And that’s pretty neat.