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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mischief Goes to Mars part 1

(* Here's a Christmas treat from Jeremy Briggs...)

In 1954 Wright's Biscuits Limited of South Shields released a trading card set of twenty-four cards entitled Mischief Goes To Mars. The cards consisted of colour illustrations on the front and an ongoing story on the back which told the futuristic tale of a young boy, Mischief, and his sister Marie and their trip to Mars with their rocket ship pilot uncle, Jet Wright. The colour illustrations were painted in a nursery style while the story tried its best to include factual information about space and spaceflight as it was known in the early 1950.

The cards were the size of the typical cigarette cards of the day and were therefore of a similar size to the Dan Dare cards issued with Calvert's Tooth Powder beginning in 1953 and the various cards sets the Express Weekly comic issued later in the decade such as The Wild West and the Jeff Hawke Space Gen cards. There were at least three variations of the Mischief cards however the differences were to do with the positioning of the Wright's name on the rear of the cards and there were no changes to the images or the story contained on the sets.

As well has their uncle having the surname of the biscuit firm, four of the cards had prominent advertising of Wright's Biscuits in the illustrations and the children were instructed by their uncle to eat as many of the “sustaining” biscuits as they could during the trip to Mars.

Wright's Biscuits Limited began in 1791 as L Wright & Son making hardtack ships biscuits for the ships on the nearby River Tyne. In the 1950s the firm operated a large biscuit factory in Rutland Street in South Shields using a trade mark on their packets of biscuits of the little boy known as Mischief, however by 1964 Wrights were taken over by Kemps Biscuits who in turn were taken over in 1972 by United Biscuits. In the rationalisation following this second takeover United Biscuits decided to close the South Shields factory and the resulting loss of 820 jobs was commented upon in the House of Commons on 24 November 1972 by Anthony Grant, the Under-Secretary Of State For Trade and Industry. However this did not stop the factory's closure in March 1973.

United Biscuits continue to produce biscuits and snacks to this day and own some of the best known brands in the UK including McVitie's and Jacob's.

(* Mischief Goes To Mars presumably © United Biscuits Ltd.)

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