S&H Green Stamps … They’re Still Around (And Other Deals Like Them)

Remember S&H Green Stamps? Remember getting them after certain purchases depending on if the business participated in giving them out with those purchases? Remember the box or drawer they were stored in until it was time to glue them in the books before redemption? Remember having to lick the backs of the stamps to put them in those books? Remember the taste in your mouth after licking so many stamps because your parents waited until the box or drawer filled up before putting them in the books? Remember looking through the catalog or going right down to the redemption store to shop for something for the family for which to trade the stamps? Remember, after you thought they weren’t redeemable anymore, wondering what to do with the stamps you found in your parents’ attic, or basement, when helping them clean out when they were downsizing, and then tossing them because you didn’t think they were valuable anymore?

Guess what? Sperry and Hutchinson Green Stamps, popular since the 1930s, are still redeemable, though not in the form we remember growing up. Green Stamps are digital and virtual now, and you can find catalogs online and redeem them online. You just have to find places that still give them out. The value of redemption is about $1.20 for 1,200 stamps but the idea of Green Stamps exists in so many more businesses which allow us to get points or cash back for making purchases.

If you get cash back you usually get whatever is the cash back earned taken off your credit card bill. Rebates mean getting money sent back to you through the mail. If you receive certain reward points, you can use them for redemption maybe for a free night or two at a hotel, to get a free flight somewhere, or take some of the fare off a flight, or, in many instances, you can redeem a variety of reward points for merchandise advertised online or in a hard copy catalog.

With my partial Cleveland Indians season ticket plan, we’re awarded Tribe Reward Points for the type of ticket plan we purchase, points for using our tickets, points for buying food and/or drink at the games, points for watching road games and entering the bonus word given on the telecast before midnight of the next day after each game (which is why I try and watch as many of the away games as possible, or TiVo them so I can watch them and get the bonus word). Heck, I stay up to watch as many games as I can, home or away, just because I love to watch my Indians. They even offer award points for listening to the away games on radio and entering the bonus word from radio (different from the televised word). You can then use those points to bid on throwing out a first pitch, or purchasing tickets for the Club Level, which includes all the food and drink you can handle, or for entry into the Terrace Club Restaurant in the stadium, or trading in for memorabilia or promotional items, etc., just like redeeming your S&H Green Stamps.

There are many ways to earn reward/bonus points today, which I guess are today’s S&H Green Stamps, and it’s nice that businesses offer them and it only makes sense for us to use them if they’re available. I mean, why not? It seems to be a “use ’em or lose ’em” deal. If not, it would be like throwing out the Green Stamps we used to get, so why not get something extra back for money spent? As good as reward points are, though, they don’t seem to have the entertainment value given to us with having to lick the stamps and glue them in the books. That was a lot of fun, as was going to the redemption store to “cash” them in.

There were so many things we could collect for trade growing up. The Green Stamps (and there were also Red Stamps) were mainly given to adults and redeemed by adults, but we kids had our collection projects that got us some free stuff too. Who remembers Mallo Cup Cards? Each one had a cash value and if you collected enough, they would serve as money allowing the collector to “spend” them on candy/merchandise offered by the Boyer Company since 1927. Guess what? They, too, are still around today and can be redeemed for items in their catalog.

Remember Bazooka Bubble Gum? Remember each piece wrapped in a small comic telling the exploits of Bazooka Joe and his friends? Well those comics were collectable and redeemable since their inception in the early 1950s, and the comics today are sought after by collectors nationwide.

I remember the Jamestown Falcons baseball team playing their games at Municipal Stadium (presently Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park), and the offer of a free ticket to the game for five Gioia macaroni shield labels which adorned each box of spaghetti or macaroni. My brother and I had a thick stack of them, and we kept encouraging Mom to serve macaroni as much as possible. It was a good thing she had so many pasta dishes in her repertoire, as that meant we got to go to many games without money. Five Gioia coupons and 15 cents for a box of popcorn provided a lot of entertainment for a kid back then. If we were lucky, after the game, we’d go over and beg for a broken/cracked bat. The cracked ones given to us were then “recycled.” We’d put a nail or screw in the cracked part, cover the handle with electric tape and we’d use them in our sandlot games (remember those) of baseball, Lazy Man, and Home Run Derby. Of course we’d have to choke up about halfway up the bat to be able to swing them since they were so big, but we didn’t care.

It was fun growing up and collecting stuff we could redeem for other stuff. It’s good to get whatever you can today, but it was much more fun collecting in the older days, especially S&H Green Stamps. They were often a part of a family project, especially putting them in the books and then everyone deciding what to get for them. For many of us that was another part of growing up in our day and a pretty good memory for many of us.