One of the more frustrating aspects of being a player collector is chasing a card that, by all appearances, should be fairly easy to find yet ends up being one of the most elusive. In 1986, Meadow Gold Dairy, a subsidiary of Beatrice Foods at the time, produced three series of baseball cards printed on the packaging of their various Double Play products. The sets were produced in cooperation with MLBPA's main licensee, Michael Schecter Associates (MSA), so the logo-less photos are all familiar from other 1984-1986 MSA issues. If you search eBay, you can usually find the boxes and wrappers for all of the 1986 Meadow Gold products.
The first set issued came in packages of BubbleGum Coolers and Assorted Jr. Pops (basically popsicles and fudgesicles). The cards from this 20-card set came two cards to a box on a perforated strip, two cards folded around an offer card. These were what became known in the hobby as the "1986 Meadow Gold Stat Backs" because they feature biographical and statistical information on the backs of the cards. These are by far the most common of the 1986 Meadow Gold issues. Dave Winfield was paired with Pete Rose, but I haven't decided whether or not to pick up the intact cards, yet.
The second set issued came printed on one of the end flaps of half gallon boxes of Double Play ice cream. As anyone who grew up in the 1970s-1990s can tell you, those old rectangular boxes of ice cream were a real pain to scoop from, and when doing so, you almost always ended up getting ice cream all over the back of your scooping hand and all down the handle of the scoop. Needless to say, the end flaps would be thoroughly coated in sticky, half-melted ice cream. As a result, it should come as no surprise that this series is a little more difficult to find. This 16-card set became most commonly known as the "1986 Meadow Gold Blank Back" set. Not really surprising, given that the back of the card was part of the inside of an ice cream box.
According to the 2004 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards (I just don't feel like pulling a newer copy off the shelf at the moment), Willie McGee was reportedly the toughest player to find from the set, but it took me the better part of a decade to track down Winfield without having to purchase a complete set of boxes. I was lucky enough to find two flat boxes, so I can cut the card off one, and keep the other intact. Most of the cards in these two sets feature the same photos, but the Blank Back cards have the backgrounds replaced with an empty sky blue backdrop. Most of the cards use the same photos for both sets, but the Winfield card uses the older image for the Stat Back (seen earliest on his 1983 Topps Glossy Send-In card) and the Blank Back uses a newer image (seen first on the 1985 General Mills MSA issue, and later on his All-Star card, #717 from the 1986 Topps base set). This card effectively completes 1986 for my Dave Winfield collection.
Winfield wasn't part of the third Meadow Gold set of 1986. It was printed as line art versions of the player photos from the other two sets, and was printed on the backs of milk cartons. This set was limited to 11 cards and was less popular than the other two sets, being both messy and ugly.