I bought a magazine the other day. As I turned each page, I came across a page that had one of those perfume inserts. I really don’t like when they do this. It’s like seeing the proverbial “wet paint” sign. You know you are going to open it up and smell whatever the hell smell they want to put in there. I could be smelling dog poop for all I know. Why are we so easy? Well, I realize, of course, that the perfume people want to give us a little tease so that we will run right out and buy their product, but I didn’t ask for smelly stuff inside my magazine. But, such is life! Estee Lauder wanted me to take a whiff of Beautiful.
It made me think of freebies.
When I was little, I really only ate Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes. And that was fine, because Kelloggs loved putting stuff in the cereal box as an added incentive to buy their cereal. Kellogg was like the P.T. Barnum of cereals.
There’s something inside. Buy me and see!
Product inserts were really big when I was little during the late 1950′s and 1960′s. People in the industry call the little enticements, ”premiums.”
Kelloggs was the first to introduce prizes in box’s of cereal. Betty Crocker put coupons in bags of flour as far back as 1929. So, this has been going on for a very long time.
Here are a few of the companies that enticed us with their freebies:
1. Bazooka Gum- You may not think of it this way, but gum is gum, and they didn’t have to give us a comic to read along with the gum. But, every time we opened a piece of Bazooka chewing gum, there is was, waiting for us. I didn’t know that Bazooka gum was owned by Topps. They had a thing about including things with things. I always wondered why the kid was wearing a patch. It bothered me. Did someone stick him in the eye with a stick? Bazooka Joe had some buddies in his comic strip. The one I remember the most was Mort, the skinny friend who always wore a red turtleneck pulled up over his mouth. See? I paid attention to the comics as I popped the gum in my mouth.
2. Cracker Jacks- I was never a fan of the carameled popcorn. It just didn’t taste good to me. So, I would buy a box just for the prize inside and sit and peel the wrapper off.
Cracker Jacks was first sold at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. At first, it was a mixture of popcorn, peanuts, and molassses, and was called “Candied Popcorn and Peanuts.” It was named Cracker Jacks after an employee remarked after biting into it, “That’s cracker jack!” Back then, that meant, “awesome.” The remarkable thing about Cracker Jacks is how a songwriter but it in the song, “Take me Out to the Ballpark.”……
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root, for the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out
at the old ball game.
Talk about free publicity.
3. Topps- I bet my brother is not happy nowadays that he used his Roberto Clemente baseball card in the spokes of his bicycle. But, that’s not all that came with baseball cards. Topps wanted you to have a piece of gum. It was wider that the usual gum, which made it pretty darn cool. But, which came first? From what I have read, Topps wanted you to taste their gum. Why not put a piece with the baseball card to entice you to their other product. Pretty smart marketing.
Ok, yeah, sure, mine gum usually looked like this when I opened up the pack, but I still chewed it.
Here are some of the other ”premiums” that I was able to remember:
4. Coke- circa 1991-They inserted Olympic cards into their 12 pack of cans. I should still have all of these somewhere. I posted the one of Mary Lou Retton because she is from Fairmont and is living here now with her family.
There are so many companies that gave away toys and trinkets inside their packaging. Cereals seemed to be the main culprit. I remember fighting with my brother and sister over some of them. I’d let my brother have all of the “boy” stuff, so I usually only had to fight my sister most of the time. And that just meant getting up earlier to open the new box of cereal.
Which got me sent to my room once in a blue moon for having too many boxes of cereal opened at the same time. I only ate Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes. So, having more than one of those opened was not good.
I do remember cutting things off of the back of the box. Sometimes it was a mask. Other times it was a coloring page. But, it made breakfast educational because afterall, we were reading the box. :ere are some other items found with their products to entice us to use or eat their product.
Circus train animals- animal crackers..wheels to make it look like a real circus train
Sugar Daddies-free wildlife card insert
Wonder Bread-Star Wars Card
Reese cup mallo card add them up and get something free..like a mallo cup
Butternut bread- Snoopy for President
Big one- McDonald’s Happy Meals- I could write a lot on just McDonald’s. Their Happy Meal was a way to get a toy in a box that also had neat stuff for the kids. You can’t purchase the toy separately. I still have a lot of the kids Happy Meal toys. Some are still in the plastic, so you know it’s going to be worth a lot of money one of these days.
Lucky charms-Harlem Globetrotter whistle
Trix-atomic submarine..What? a sub? Inside? I hated Trix. But a sub? In a box of cereal. MOM!!
Or three “groovy” balloons. Balloons aren’t special unless they are groovy.
Yes, the late fifties and early sixties were a great time to be a kid. Cereal inserts were commonplace. Kids ate their cereal. Some ate their cereal as a snack before bed. Oh, my, the cereal companies were doing well. Even the cereals with the word “sugar” in the title did well. We had Sugar Smacks and one of my favorite, Sugar Pops. Life was good.
So, the next time you open a wrapper on a piece of Bazooka Joe gum, take a second to read the comic.
It is, after all, their way of thanking you for buying their product.