It was the giveaway to end all giveaways: 70 years ago almost to the day, a store in Oregon advertised a drawing for a baby. How the heck did this actually happen? Plus: it’s December and a good way to enjoy the season is a little thing called ice bumper cars.
We give this show away free to you every day. There are no gimmicks, no strings attached, we just put it out there and hope you like it.
But for businesses, giveaways can be effective ways to drum up more customers, or at least notoriety.
You want more people in your store? Free stuff will do it almost every time.
And we’ve tried it all.
MTV once promoted that song “Pink Houses” by giving away an actual pink house.
And the Lowell Spinners minor league baseball team once attracted thousands of fans by offering a free piece of bubble paper to pop with each ticket.
KGW TV in Portland, Oregon had maybe the giveaway to end all giveaways. Seventy years ago almost to the day, a store advertised a drawing for a baby?!?
The store in this story was Fred Meyer, a one-stop shopping chain that was opening a new location in a Portland neighborhood on December 1, 1949.
Fred Meyer promotions were pretty over the top, including a time they gave away the world’s largest wheel of cheese.
But this was a jaw-dropper even for them: an ad that read “a healthy two months old baby will be the grand prize at Fred Meyer Hollywood Fair Drawing.”
The prize also included a year’s worth of baby food, plus a layette, meaning baby clothes and other supplies.
The one qualification: the winners had to be a “deserving man and wife.”
Some people were excited by the drawing, some people were outraged, but either way, people were paying attention.
On the day of the big drawing, there were more people at the store than could fit inside, and the store presented a local couple, the Lindermans, with the grand prize, which was in fact a two month old baby.
But if you looked closely at that ad, it said two month old baby but didn’t say which kind.
The Lindermans went home with a two month old chinchilla, plus food pellets and a rodent-sized bunch of hay as a layette.
December is full of exciting things like ice bumper cars!
These have been around for a while now, but I somehow missed them until now.
It’s like ice skating, but no skate rental and you’re allowed to clonk into people!
The holidays at their best.