In 1974 the Federal Energy Office printed 4.2 billion gas rationing coupons (at a cost of $11 million to the taxpayers) which were stored in a secret military installation out West. The coupons were discovered to be unusable because with slight alterations, they could be fed into dollar changer machines in laundromats, airports, amusement arcades, etc., across the country.
Industry sources have calculated that coupon misredemption has cost manufacturers between $100 and $143 million.
The first coupon was purportedly issued by C. W. Post in 1895 for one penny off on its cereal.
Three years after the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, toll takers issued booklets of holiday discount coupons in hopes of luring traffic away from Interstate 95, built five years ahead of schedule.
A 1969 House of Representatives small-business subcommittee questionnaire indicated that soap companies using coupon-return sweepstakes promotions reported they awarded 1.9 percent of prizes advertised.
In 1974 General Mills made available coupon cash payoffs to selected groups with community needs such as fire engines, school buses and airplanes for flying missionaries. The California Hell's Angels motorcycle gang tried to trade Betty Crocker coupons for a bus. They didn't get it.
The Norfolk city zoo bought a hippopotamus and a baby elephant in 1971 with S & H Green Stamps.
United Airlines got its coupon scheme (half-off coupons on fares were offered after the 1979 strike to entice passengers back to United) from its passenger pricing manager who got the idea one morning while brushing his teeth when a cents-off coupon fell out of the toothpaste box.In the three weeks the half-fare coupons were offered, 2 1/2 million were passed out to customers at a cost of $50,000. During the time the coupons were valid, the airline reset its reservations record four times in one week.