Sunday, May 23, 2010

Free samples.....

were once given out in abundance. I can remember receiving samples of nearly everything on the market....excluding, of course, alcohol, sexual items or aides. If you didn't have a baby but knew someone who did, you saved all your samples of baby items for them. I even got a baby t-shirt as a sample once.

I've received toothpaste, pantyhose, makeup, medicine...(gasp....yes, medicine)....well, aspirin, arthritis creme and cough syrup type stuff, but it's still considered medicine.....dog biscuits, deodorant, hand lotion....oh the list just goes on. And back before they passed a law against it, even cigarettes were given as free samples. A little box with 5 of them would be sitting in your mailbox just waiting for you to light up and pass judgment. It made it a joy to go to your mailbox....for hidden amongst the bills, you may just find a free sample or two. Like Christmas.....you never knew what you'd get......several times a month. I especially loved the little bottles of shampoo, dishwashing detergent or bars of soap. How about those little boxes of laundry detergent? And thinking along those lines....does anyone remember the so-called free towels and glassware in the boxes of laundry soap. I am saying "so-called" because I'm certain that we all paid a little extra for that soap. What WAS the name of that darned soap....Breeze? I can't remember. So much for creating a lasting impression on us consumers.

Free little toys in breakfast cereal....that were actually THERE....in the box. You didn't have to send away for them. I can remember dumping whole boxes of cereal in a bowl to find the toy so the kids could have it immediately (because they'd seen the pictures on the box and they KNEW) and then putting the cereal all back in the box again. Back then, they didn't care so much about getting your name and address and what type of products you prefer.....they just considered it a good marketing ploy. And it was.

Remember the gift stamps? Gold Bell, Holden's Red Stamps and S&H stamps (aka green stamps). I loved those stamps and obtained quite a few household items....absolutely free (except of course, you had to pay sales tax)....in exchange for my books of stamps. Only thing invested was time.....and spit. If you were smart, you used a sponge and some water to put them in the books. First starting out as a married couple, we utilized as many free offers as possible. In addition to his regular job, my husband worked part-time at a gas station.....back when an attendant pumped your gas, washed your windows, checked your air, water and oil. This one night a semi truck driver pulled in and filled up with diesel. He DID NOT want his stamps and gave them to my husband. When he came home with all those stamps.....there were HUNDREDS of them....I felt like we'd hit the lottery.

I can remember never having to buy a light bulb. You saved up your burned out ones and took them back to the power company and they gave you a new one for each burned-out one you turned in. They also would replace the heating elements on your electric stove burners and oven for free. Not even a charge for a service call.

Little by little the freebies stopped. Every great once in a while I will receive a free sample of something in the mail, but its probably not more than once or twice a year. There are places online that you can sign up for free samples, but your name and information is probably sold to thousands of advertisers in exchange for your freebie. For me, its just not worth all the junk mail or email I would receive. Sometimes you'll find a sample packet of shampoo or lotion tucked into a magazine.....but I don't consider that free because you had to buy the magazine to get it. Everyone likes to get something for free......REALLY free, no strings attached. I miss it.

Well, its supper-time so I'm going to pull off of memory lane and get into the house and see what I can get on the table. Hope all of you have a great up-coming week and most of all, enjoy this nice Sunday evening.
Keep smilin'.

21 comments:

Rae said...

Yes those were the good old days. I remember getting free dishes at the grocery too. For a relatively cheap price, one could even finish a whole set of dinnerware..one piece at a time. Now we are being gouged from every direction. What irks me the most is the tricky downsizing. Manufacturers cleverly disguise boxes and packaging to make it look like you are getting a bargain, when they are actually shrinking the amount of product.

ain't for city gals said...

WOW..this was a trip down memory lane...the only one I don't remember is the bringing back the light bulbs...now a days my mantra is "There is no such thing as free" ...every thing has a hidden price some where including the "illusion of privacy" on the computer...fun post...

lucylocket said...

My grandmother and my mother used Oxydol soap powder just to get the free things inside. I think they also put dishes and glassware in oatmeal boxes. I hated oatmeal but we had to eat it sometimes so another box could be purchased.

Do you remember that the soap powder (not detergent as we have today) was not only used for laundry, but also for dishwashing and general cleaning? Now you have to buy a special cleaner for every job.

gayle said...

Thank you for a wonderful trip down memory lane!! I remember the stamps and the toys in the cereal boxes! Haven't thought about those in years!!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

My mother used to talk about "dish night" at the movies. I remember many of the things you mention, though not the light bulbs. Green stamps were a big deal, along with Betty Crocker coupons. My task was to take the cardboard backing off the coupons so they would weigh less when we mailed them in.

ethelmaepotter! said...

I adore this post!!!!

We had those S&H stamps, as well as Gold Bond, Top Value, and Plaid Stamps. Seems like once a year, you could get a free catalog, listing all the goodies and the number of filled stamp books required to buy them.

We also had Blue Horse school paper and notebooks. Each item had blue horse points you could cut out and accumulate for prizes. That was great fun.

We always looked forward to Mama's McCall's magazine every month, because each issue had a cut out Betsy McCall paper doll and a page of clothes!

I remember oatmeal with glasses and both Breeze and Duz detergents with glasses and towels. Maybe Cheer, too. And Cracker Jacks had actual TOYS, not just that little sappy picture card they have now.

And what about when fast food restauarnts like McDonalds gave out little stuffed Christmas ornaments? They were free when you bought a guft certificate. yes bought a GIFT CERTFICATE - not a plastic card!

And goodness, is there anyone out there as old as I am, who can remember when TV was free?

Jamie said...

What an AWESOME post! I lived with my grandparents way, way back. They lived on the farm...in a small town of about eighty people. We did have television..(although the potty was across the road), and each week, the Porter Wagner show was on. I DO remember Dolly Parton doing the commercials for boxes of Breeze..with a free towel! Oh the good old days...I must have been about four at that time. :) Happy Monday...ugh

My Aimless Infatuation said...

I just love these trips down memory lane,I also remember all these things. Thank goodness blogging is free(for the moment)and I get to connect with people(like you)that I have something in common with. Thanks for the memories Val.

Happyone :-) said...

This certainly brought back memories. Back then Cracker Jacks had much better toys too.
I remember all the things you said and I collected the stamps too, first with my my and then my own when I got married.
I don't remember the light bulb exchange though.
Enjoy your Monday.

glnroz said...

i think the kids products,, "free except for postage" were great ways to introduce us to "marketing".. plus the anticipations of waiting for the mailman....

forsythia said...

Remember when there were REAL prizes in Crackerjack? The other day I bought a bag of Crackerjack at a fundraiser. You should have seen the silly paper puzzle (?) they were trying to pass off as a prize.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Yeah, where ARE all the free goodies these days. I hadn't thought about it much, but it was fun getting those little surprises once in a while. I did however just get a couple of those little cereal boxes sealed in plastic and delivered with my newspaper a couple of days ago. Thas was kind of a nice surprise. Happy week Val... Hugs, Joy

Linda Medrano said...

It's funny because years ago, Neiman Marcus gave out a huge amount of "free samples" with your purchase of perfume or cosmetics once a year. It was called "The Beauty Event" and it was really something to look forward to! There were about 50 samples with everything from full sized eye shadows and lipsticks to little containers of moisturizer, facial cleanser, masks, aniti-agin creams, perfumes, lotions, etc. and the entire thing was really pretty darned impressive. I would hold on to a lot of it and give them out as little "gifts" for the guests at parties etc.

Fast forward a few years. If you buy the $100 worth of merchandise, you can get 3 or 4 "free samples". Damn! These used to be so generous, and now they are a couple of tiny things of lotion or such, not anything like they used to be! Alas, free just ain't like it used to be! (And honestly, it's a shame because it gave you the chance to try something before you buy. I used to make buying choices based on those "free" samples that I liked!

Jenny said...

I loved this little trip down memory lane. It's so weird but we get a lot of samples in our Sunday newspaper. It comes in a plastic bag and there are all kinds of samples...little bottles of shampoo, a can of dogfood, a small roll of paper towels, bandaids, face cream. It's kind of fun!

Loved S&H Greenstamps. I've heard you can still redeem them. Not sure if that's true or not!

Neat post!

Maria said...

Oh, boy yes. I remember when the Avon lady used to visit my mother and she always had those little sample lipsticks. My mother always gave them to me. I never once had to buy a lipstick in high school....

Cheryl said...

Great post. I don't remember all the free samples, but I remember the Green Stamps. And the ones that came with cigarettes. It's hard to believe all the stuff they used to give away. Personally, I still like going to Sam's Club when I can on a weekend to get the free food samples :)

Mama Llama said...

What a wonderfully nostalgic post! I do remember a lot of free samples in the mail, as well as the green stamps. We never got to take light bulbs back for new ones, though.

I just got tampon samples in the mail. How about THAT?! (snicker)

Be well, Val.

Mama Llama said...

What a wonderfully nostalgic post! I do remember a lot of free samples in the mail, as well as the green stamps. We never got to take light bulbs back for new ones, though.

I just got tampon samples in the mail. How about THAT?! (snicker)

Be well, Val.

dana said...

Two things you missed: I used to buy a particular laundry soap because inside, carefully packed, was THE most beautiful drinking glass. If you bought the larger box, there were carved water glasses on stems. I never USED them, because they were "too pretty". AND our gasoline station would give away different gifts for using their gas. Once they were giving away a glass cookie jar. I carefully chose the clear one, then later returned it for the amber one. Oh the CHOICES!!! And they were all reasons to rejoice.

Sarah said...

I love free samples...anytime I see them, I send off for them. The bad thing is, I haven't gotten any that have been really awesome, except for some face cream that wasn't free cuz I had to pay shipping to get it but it was awesome and came with this beautiful red lipstick that I only wore once because the hubby doesn't like red lipstick. He calls it "hooker lipstick"! LOL

Snappy Di said...

How funny... I just received a small free sample of shampoo and conditioner in the mail today... some promotion Kroger grocery is doing. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick as my dad would say.

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal