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Lickin' 'o the Green

by Eva Pasco

S7H Green Stamps 
Though there will always be spills in "Aisle 2" of our nation's supermarkets, B.B. King's '69 song title spills all: The Thrill is Gone...the thrill of collecting and hording S Green Stamps.  My mother collected Plaid and King Korn stamps too, from markets now defunt--Almacs, A&P, Great Scott, and Big G-- but 'twas streamers 'o the green that stuffed our cookie jar. 
Sperry&Hutchinson, distributor of S&H Green Stamps, was by far the most popular, and actually began offering their stickies to retailers since 1896. Supermarkets gave out green stamps as bonuses with every purchase based on the amount you spent at the checkout. You pasted them inside a book or several, and brought these to an S&H redemption center. Oftentimes after a grocery shopping spree ferried in a bat-winged Impala driven by my aunt, my sister and I would lick the stamps and paste them inside a book for that coveted day of reckoning and redemption. A-a-a-h, so many few stamps: bedspreads, clocks, toasters--you name it--even life insurance policies could be had with the green! 
Sperry&Hutchinson hit their stride in the 60s, printing three times as many stamps as the US Postal Service. It's catalog was probably the largest single publication in the country. Alas, stamp programs faded during the recession of the 70s. S&H was sold by the founders' successors in 1981, then purchased for a holding firm by a member of the Sperry family in 1991. Stores offering green stamps have dwindled considerably, though I understand one may acquire "greenpoints" through online purchases. 
As if Green Stamps didn't make grocery shopping in the 60s thrilling enough...I recall the boxed powdered dish detergents offering hidden treasures inside: fine china; silverware; pink and blue Melmac cups and saucers. I can't forget those reusable Howdy Doody jelly jars for drinking glasses either. There may be spills and frills in the aisles today, but nothing can surpass the fanfare of supermarkets during the sixties. The Thrill is Gone... 

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