In a previous entry about things gone but not forgotten (by me and my generation, anyway,) I mentioned S&H green stamps.
Trading stamps were incentives given out by grocery stores and gas stations in the same way as stores do with coupons, reward-cards, and other come-ons today. You’d collect the stamps, paste them in books, and then take your books to a redemption center somewhere and exchange them for consumer goods.
Based on the amount of your purchase, the checker would dial up the amount you spent on a machine like the one above, and the thing would dispense stamps in 1, 10, and the coveted 50 variety. The last one was great because you could fill up an entire page in the book with just one lick.
Depending on the area of the country you lived in, there were different varieties of stamps available. The ones I recall in addition to the S&H Green Stamps were:
Gold strike stamps
Page from a Gold Strike Stamp Catalog. This was not cheap slum; the premiums had significant value if you were willing to collect enough books.
Blue Chip Stamps. If you’re curious about that “cash value one mill” (equivalent to 1/10 ¢) thing, have a gander at this article over at Mental Floss.
Blue Chip Promotional Ad
Plaid Stamps, particular to A&P.
Pages from a Plaid Stamp catalog.
I remember helping my mother gather and lick and apply these things and looked forward to her regular trips to the grocery store. I can’t recall what, if anything, she ever redeemed her books for, but the memory of the collecting is very clear. While the craze faded shortly after, I’m glad I was able to live through this interesting bit of cultural history.
The Old Wolf has spoken.