Hostess Potato Chips WrestleMania Stickers!!!
Bonus Story: Canadian Bulldog Sr. meets Davey Boy Smith
Once upon a time (e.g. the 1980s), there was no more valued snack food brand in Canada than Hostess Potato Chips, and it's not just because of the kick-ass story that will follow.
It's hard to put my finger on why, but Hostess were definitely the best-tasting potato chip in the country, putting brands such as Humpty Dumpty and Munchos to shame. Hostess had cool packaging, outstanding mascots (three multicolored gremlin-like characters known as The Munchies), a decent variety of chips and a memorable slogan/theme song ("Cause when you've got The Munchies, nothin' else will do. HOSTESS POTATO CHIPS!")
Hostess was eventually absorbed (and then forgotten about) by Frito-Lay Canada, but this story takes place when the chip brand was still rocking supermarket shelves everywhere...
In late-1986, Canadian Bulldog Sr. (don't pretend like you don't know who he is!!! But in case you actually don't know, my father) came home from work and told his family the great news: Hostess was having a WWF wrestling promotion!!!
My old man was a bigwig in the Canadian retail game at the time, so we would always get tons of free candy and chip samples as a result (For example, I remember once having enough generic wagon wheels in our kitchen cupboards to feed a small family for a year). But this - this was more than a mere potato chip promotion: my brother (The Big Rybowski) and I got the EXCLUSIVE SCOOP that WWF was tag teaming with Hostess! Had he also announced that my school was currently on fire, it may have been the greatest day in my 12 year-old life!
In addition to boxes and boxes of potato chip bags someone at Hostess sent over, we also got exclusive swag for the promotion, such as a gym bag with the WWF and Hostess logos intertwined, and the videotape "Hulkamania" on either Betamax or VHS (don't recall which, but the fact that I no longer have the video suggests to me it was Beta).
We also received an audio cassette containing promotional commercials that would air on the radio, starring none other than Mean Gene Okerlund and extolling the virtues of the Hostess WrestleMania stickers. Years later, I stuffed tissue into the holes at the top of the cassette and recorded over it. Lord only knows why.
Hulk Hogan, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Damian, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.
Not that I wasn't appreciative of the many, many potato chips that would be stuffed into my acne-ridden mug as a result of the free Hostess snacks, but obviously the WWF stickers were the main attraction. These bad boys combined the fun of trading cards and the "cool" factor of stickers. Some kids traded them at school, some affixed them to the inside of their lockers, but I kept my entire collection intact. Look at them! Each one is like individually-wrapped artwork...
Elizabeth and Randy "Macho Man" Savage, King Kong Bundy, The British Bulldogs (no relation), Junkyard Dog, The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff.
Again, these weren't trading cards, such as the Topps WWF set that I've covered here. And they were exclusive to Canada, making fans like myself feel like we belonged to an elite club. I'm not sure flashing one of these at a security guard would have secured me a ringside seat at the monthly Maple Leaf Gardens show, but I damned sure would have tried.
George "The Animal" Steele, Hillbilly Jim, Kamala, Outback Jack and The Magnificent Muraco.
What impressed me most about this collection is it wasn't just the main event guys who landed a sticker. Sure, many of these guys appeared at WrestleManias 2 and 3, but... Outback Jack? Seriously?!? Tie me kangaroo down, sport? That one took some serious stones by the good folks at Hostess.
Also - Kamala? Looks like he is staring directly at the WWF logo, which may be the most amazing thing ever.
Koko B. Ware, The Honky Tonk Man, Tito Santana, Sika and Hulk Hogan.
The other cool thing about this collection was it truly showed off the depth of the WWF roster at the time. You could mix up pretty much any combination of stickers and come up with a match that, in the year 2014, sounds pretty damn good in retrospect. I'll just throw out a few examples to prove my point: Ricky Steamboat vs. King Kong Bundy. Paul Orndorff vs. The Honky Tonk Man. The British Bulldogs vs. Kamala and Sika.
Sure, none of these matchups happened in real life, but in sticker form, they all sound incredible. In my mind, Gorilla Monsoon is saying how each of those sticker matchups would be "a main event at any arena in the country".
And speaking of incredible? As part of the Hostess/WWF promotion, Bulldog Sr. got a visit from his office.... by none other than DAVEY BOY EFFING SMITH!!!
While having one half of the WWF Tag Team Champions may seem like an odd choice to do promotional work, there was a very good reason: his partner, Dynamite Kid, had recently suffered a serious spinal cord injury in nearby Hamilton, Ontario. For several months, the WWF put Davey Boy on the road with temporary tag team partners such as Junkyard Dog until The Bulldogs dropped the tag belts to The Hart Foundation in January 1987.
Sorry, I can't stop looking at this Polaroid. Two of my biggest heroes ever - my dad and one half of my favorite all-time tag teams - TOGETHER AT LAST! Needless to say, I was the envy of every stupid mark in my neighborhood, and then some.
Looking back now, how cool would it have been had The Canadian/British Bulldogs taken their act on the road as defending WWF Tag Team Champions? The Sheik and Volkoff, Hart Foundation, Bundy and Studd.... none of them would have stood a chance!
And as though we needed even more swag, Rybowski and I were also given autographed 8 x 10's of Davey Boy and red-and-white British Bulldogs tee-shirts like the one he's wearing in the picture (though to be fair, DBS's guns were a bit larger than mine back then).
One more story from the historic Bulldog/Father Summit: You may notice how, in Davey Boy's hands, he's holding a leash. That's because his mascot Matilda ALSO CAME TO THE OFFICE that fateful day! It makes me wish I had somehow entered the corporate rat race at age 12, just so I could have witnessed this visit (Bulldog Sr. also met The Honky Tonk Man a year or so later and, once at an airport in Vancouver, John "Earthquake" Tenta. But this story is WAY better).
Anyways.... Matilda showed up at Bulldog Sr's office, chewed on some pencils and.... uh, how do I put this gently? The pooch pooped. She crapped on the carpet. Tagged in a turd. Left a dog log. Took a Davey Boy dump. You get the point.
In fact, when I asked my old man if I could use this photo of him, his only request was that I "mention that their dog shit on my rug when they came to my office".
Done and done, dad. Done and done.