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Carol Perkins: Useful surprises

Previous Column: The Slap

By Carol Perkins

A box of Cornflakes, a Cracker Jack box, and a box of oatmeal had something in common years ago: a prize inside. This prize might be a pulsating ring, a floating frogman, or a crystal glass. The cereal box required work to seek the buried prize. I have stuck my little arm up to my elbow in a cereal box to retrieve the prize.

A box of Cracker Jack was not as easily conquered because of the size and the stickiness of the corn. I ate my way to the bottom or poured out the caramel corn to get the prize. Often a plastic ring was the treasure-hence the question often asked, "Did that ring come from a box of Cracker Jacks?"

Oatmeal prizes were of more value. The Crystal Wedding Oats offered crystal cups, glasses, and bowls.

Depression glassware showed up in boxes of Mother's Quaker Oats. There might be a teacup, a small plate, fruit cups, or a small glass in a box of oats. You had to shake off the oatmeal to get the item from the box. They that are now collectors' items.

Inside Bonus, Duz, and Breeze laundry detergents a free English rose dish towel was tucked inside. Duz went even further by including Golden Wheat dinnerware in each box. Everything from platters, plates, bowls, and cups with saucers surprised the buyer. Customers repeatedly bought Duz and these other products to complete their sets.

When I was a young wife and mother, my collection of dinnerware came from my local grocery store. With each amount spent, I was able to buy a plate for a dollar, or the next week I might spend more and get two plates. I have a beautiful set of China that came from the IGA. Many of us collected that pattern and borrowed each other's when we had showers or large dinners. My daughter will inherit my IGA China. Then we collected silverware.

This marketing method was a genius, but would probably not work as well today because we have more than we need. That wasn't the case when this idea first appeared during the Depression. Families used these surprises every day.

You can contact Carol at

This story was posted on 2022-04-07 08:41:27
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