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1870-1920 Trade tokens or “good for” tokens were issued by merchants to promote business.

Soap “coupons,” like this one issued by Palmolive, were used all over the U.S. and were typically made from aluminum. Other issued tokens were good at general stores, department stores, meat markets, dairies, bars, barbers, drugstores, and lumber mills.

In 1887, the Coca-Cola Company was incorporated with Asa Candler as one of the partners. He transformed Coca-Cola from an insignificant tonic into a profitable business by using innovative advertising techniques.

The key to this growth was Candler's ingenious marketing including having the company's employees and sales representatives distribute complimentary coupons for
Coca-Cola. Coupons were mailed to potential customers and placed in magazines. The company gave soda fountains free syrup to cover the costs of the free drinks.

It is estimated that between 1894 and 1913 one in nine Americans had received a free Coca-Cola, for a total of 8,500,000 free drinks. By 1895 Candler announced to shareholders that Coca-Cola was served in every state in the United States.

In 1887, the first unofficial coupon was issued by Asa Candler, who bought the formula for Coca-Cola for $2 300.  Candler distributed handwritten tickets to exchange for a free glass of his new drink.


Coupons first saw widespread use in the United States in 1895 when C. W. Post conceived the idea to help sell breakfast cereals and other products.

In 1895, CW Post issued the first official coupon. Post, the local grocer, issued coupons worth one cent to stimulate sales of his health cereal, GrapeNuts.

During the 1930's clipping coupons had become necessary for many families who struggled to afford groceries.

By the 1940's chain supermarkets, continued the tradition of using coupons that the smaller neighbourhood grocery stores had developed.

In 1957, The Nielson Coupon Clearing House was established devoted entirely to coupon redemption.

Half of all households were clipping coupons by 1965.

By the mid 1990s retailers began offering printable coupons which could be downloaded from the Internet. The new millennium saw internet retailers using coupons in the form of coupon codes to encourage shoppers to buy their products.



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