Can you really redeem a 100-year-old coupon?
Have you ever set aside a letter or some paperwork only to later wonder, “Whatever happened to that?”
Eighty-seven-year old Laurine Williams from Pennsylvania knows that feeling all too well.
She wrote a letter to General Mills in 1984, set it aside and didn’t mail it until November 2012.
And, in that misplaced letter, she was asking to redeem a coupon that was more than 100 years old.
Williams’ mother had an original 1910 Gold Medal Flour Cook Book and the book contained several coupons on the back page.
“Cut out this Coupon and send it to us with 10 cents in Silver or Stamps and we will send the GOLD MEDAL COOK BOOK to the address written below,” the coupon instructions read.
The original intent of the coupon was to share a copy of the cookbook with a friend.
In her 1984 letter to General Mills, Williams taped a dime next to the coupon and politely pointed out that the offer had no expiration date. Then she got busy, and tucked the note, coupon and dime back into the book and set it aside.
“My daughter and I were cleaning out the cupboard that had many cookbooks that I use very rarely now and we ran into that book. I started telling her about it, and I laughingly said I was tempted to send this coupon in,” she said.
As it happens, the Gold Medal Flour Cook Book was reprinted in 1983 to fulfill requests like Laurine’s.
She mailed her letter 28 years after its intended post date and received her cookbook in the mail.
“I was delighted to get the reprinted edition. I never expected to get one, but it was fun. It’s been passed around and many people here in town have seen it.”
Jeff Hagen, our director of global consumer relations, wrote back to Williams. He says, in retrospect, the company should have added an expiration date or at least a requirement for a Barber dime – a dime from the turn of the 20th century – in order to get a copy of the book.
“I learned something new from the gentleman who answered my letter because I did not know what a Barber dime was,” Williams said. “If I’d had a Barber dime from 1910, though, I wouldn’t have sent it to General Mills. I would’ve kept it!”
Like Barber dimes, the Gold Medal Flour Cook Book is from a bygone era. Williams says some of the words are unfamiliar and some of the recipes are unusual.
“One night at dinner here, our family was all home, and we were sitting here laughing about it. We decided there were some recipes we would never try. There was one that had a calf’s head involved in it,” she said.
There are many pastries and desserts, however, that Laurine thinks sound wonderful. Her daughters plan to try some of those recipes.
Who knows, maybe Laurine will, too … when she’s not so busy.
Editor’s note: The General Mills Archives provided information and images for this post. You can learn more about our past on GeneralMills.com. Have a question about General Mills’ history? Send our Archives team an email.