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Back when Stamps were Green....I Don't Mean Eco-Friendly! Collecting S&H Green Stamps

Updated on July 6, 2012
ThelmaC profile image

Thelma Raker Coffone is an award winning writer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics, especially those honoring Veterans.

Familiar Sign of S&H Green Stamps

Logo of Sperry & Hutchinson S&H Green Stamps
Logo of Sperry & Hutchinson S&H Green Stamps

S&H Green Stamps ... One of the Earliest Customer Loyalty Programs

Customer loyalty programs got their start back in 1896 when Thomas Sperry and Shelly Hutchinson started what would become a pop culture icon in the United States....S&H Green Stamps.

Many of us grew up licking the green stamps and putting them in collector books until our tongues turned green. For some reason, most of us never got around to putting them in the books until the day we wanted to go to the redemption center and pick out a wonderful gift. It was amazing that you could get almost anything with your stamp books. There is a story of a school in Erie, Pennsylvania saving 5.4 million stamps to buy a pair of gorillas for a zoo!

S&H Green Stamps Were Extremely Popular and Successful Marketing Ploy

By the mid 1960s, 80% of the US households were participating in the extremely successful bonus stamp programs. Shoppers were collecting not just the S&H green stamps which were the most popular, but also Triple S stamps from Grand Union stores, Gold Bond, Blue Chip, Plaid stamps from A&P supermarkets and several others.

Retailers bought the stamps from companies like S&H then gave them to customers based on the dollar amount of their purchases. Customers would choose one merchant over another because they gave more stamps per dollar spent. In addition to grocery stores, gas stations and department stores used the bonus stamps to attract customers.

Stamp Collecting or Gambling?

It is amazing but some states equated the stamp programs to gambling! The programs were regulated by the government in those states and the merchants had to get a special permit to participate. Due to the high cost of the licenses, few stores were able to give out the bonus stamps in those areas of the US. But that didn't stop the green stamp craze and by the 1960s the S&H company was issuing 3 times as many stamps as the US Postal service and collecting the little green stamps had become a national pastime.

With a strong economy and busy lifestyles, interest in the stamps declined in the 1990s and by 1999 only 100 stores were giving out green stamps. Then along came the Internet and S&H green stamps went virtual. Today they are called "Green Points" and you collect them by making purchases from virtual stores that offer them and ordering items from an online rewards catalog. More information is available at their website, www.greenpoints.com.

If you still have some of the old stamps, don't worry. You can contact the S&H company at 800-435-5674 for instructions on how to redeem them.

Somehow cashing in points online just isn't the same as getting a green tongue then jumping in the Studebaker to rush down to the redemption center!

Green Stamps, Prostitution and Tequila!

Green Stamps have been mentioned in movies, tv shows and songs. A particularly funny episode of the TV show "Night Court" featured an elderly prostitute who admits to the court that she "did it" for Green Stamps. Bailiff Bull Shannon, played by Richard Moll, asks Bailiff Roz Russell, portrayed by Marsha Warfield, "Can you imagine degrading yourself for Green Stamps?" Roz replied, "Sure. By now I would've had enough stamps for a sailboat."

Charles Addams, the cartoonist that inspired the tv series Addams Family, drew a cartoon that featured a mortician that gave out Green Stamps. Novelist Stephen King talks about his first short story idea called "Happy Stamps". The unpublished story is about counterfeiting the stamps in order to get a new home and was supposedly inspired by King's mother who loved to collect S&H green stamps.

In 1962, singer Pat Boone had a hit song called "Speedy Gonzales". The final line of the song is "Hey Rosita, come quick, down at the cantina they're giving green stamps with tequila!"

Pat Boone hit "Speedy Gonzales" Mentions Green Stamps

© 2011 Thelma Raker Coffone

Please Leave Your Comments About Collecting S&H Green Stamps!

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    • profile image

      Janice 

      5 years ago

      I am looking for the song about S and H green stamps...It went something like this: My wife said honey, the next door neighbors are saving up stamps and going to get them a son, so lets save stamps so we can get us a son.... keep smiling.. Janice

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Heidi thanks for reading my hub and your nice comments. I love writing about nostalgia. I look forward to following your work here.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      5 years ago from Chicago Area

      Oh dear! I also remember collecting both Green and Plaid Stamps. (Remember the Brady Bunch episode where they were fighting over who would get to cash in the stamps?) It was an incentive that worked for a very long time. It actually still works... we just call them points now. Great nostalgic hub!

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      SandyH I'm glad you found this interesting. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

    • profile image

      SandyH 

      6 years ago

      Interesting article about S&H green stamps. My mother collected them when I was a child. Wondered if they were still around.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Thanks for stopping by pstraubie48 . Good memories for many of us!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 years ago from sunny Florida

      When I was a little girl, my Mother collected green stamps. I was the lucky one who got to paste them in the little booklet. It was a booklet, right? I haven't thought of them in years. Oh, my, deja vu...thanks for the memories.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Thank you LostInRevery for reading my hub and for your comments. I love to write about things from the "olden" days!

      Welcome to Hubpages and I look forward to following your hubs.

      Thelma

    • LostInRevery profile image

      LostInRevery 

      7 years ago from Maine

      Wow! I remember those green stamps when I was a kid! My mom used to collect them. Haha...so many memories :)

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Wow Kathy...that is so cool. I am thrilled that you remembered my S&H Green Stamp hub.

      Thanks!!!!

    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 

      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      OMG, Thelma, you want to know something funny? I thought about you this weekend! Ha!!! We were at the LVH Hotel here in Las Vegas, it used to be known as the Las Vegas Hilton, but now is called LVH... anyway, they have S & H Green Stamp SLOT machines there! I thought that was so neat! :) I remembered that you had written a hub about Green Stamps! :)

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Tillsontitan thanks for the nice comments. I always thought the A&P seemed like a nicer store than others in our town. We no longer have them here in Georgia. I remember you could grind the coffee beans right there in the store and it always smelled so good! Funny little things you remember from childhood.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      What a great hub for us baby boomers! Of course we collected green stamps, or rather our parents did. We got to lick them and put them in the book and if we were real good we could go help pick out the merchandise. We collected plaid stamps too 'cause my Dad worked for the A&P and we did a lot of shopping there.

      This is a nice nostalgic hub with some good information. Voted up and interesting.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      TheLastBabyBoomer thanks for taking the time to read my article and for sharing your memories with us!

      Thelma

    • TheLastBabyBoomer profile image

      Deborah Turner 

      7 years ago from Surprise Arizona

      I loved going to the showroom with my mom to cash in her greenstamp books. And all that licking ... yuk! Thanks for the memory!

    • lucybell21 profile image

      Bonny OBrien 

      7 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

      Gee I remember my mom and dad collecting these stamps when I was growing up, and the books to. What a great memory!

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      8 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Thanks for your nice comments and for following me! I think you and I both like nostalgia!

    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 

      8 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Wow, this DOES bring back memories, I had NO idea there are still "green points" online, though! I learned something new today! Great writing, not only interesting and informative, but a really FUN read!!

    • Green Art profile image

      Green Art 

      8 years ago

      This article brought back fond memories for me as well. My Mom went shopping at the Kroger grocery store where she loaded up on green stamps. They came out of the register like a ticker tape machine. Like many of you I counted, licked and pasted stamps into books too. Fun times and memories ThelmaC. Thanks great hub!

    • wirewoman profile image

      wirewoman 

      8 years ago

      Well, this article is good fun. Embarrased to say that at the ripe old age of 5, I had my first serious crush on Pat Boone, ha! I also clearly remember my brother, sisters and I helping past all those stamps into the green stamp books...we all sat around the dining room table together, licking and pasting to get whatever new item my mother set her sights on. Thanks for bringing up those fun memories.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      8 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Wirewoman thanks for your comments. I never realized how much I missed green stamps until a few days ago someone asked if they were still around and that gave me the idea for the hub. I just stumbled on to the gambling reference and thought it was really funny. My mother would not have liked the fact that she was gambling!

    • wirewoman profile image

      wirewoman 

      8 years ago

      Yikes, I had a friend when I was young with the most gorgeous house.........all furnished with now I guess, the gambling green stamps. Great hub!

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      8 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Many of us have those same memories of getting some really good stuff with them. Wish you could get something extra like that at the gas station today!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Thelma, that takes me back, collecting green shield stamps, we use to get some really good stuff with them! green stamps gambling? that's so funny! many thanks for sharing.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      8 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      It is so funny that anyone could think collecting green stamps was gambling! Thanks for taking the time to comment on my article!!

    • profile image

      dbacklund 

      8 years ago

      Half of my parents house hold items was purchased with GREEN STAMPS from the toaster to the ironing board. I did not know that is was gambling.

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