A Brief History of Coupons

Thousands of coupons and promo codes are used on a daily basis - in fact, $3.1 billion was saved in 2017 alone, thanks to coupons. Surprisingly, coupons as we know them today have not been around for a very long time. As a leading coupon platform, we offer budget-conscious shoppers daily discounts to help save money - so it's fair to say we love a good coupon and the interesting place they have in history. Without further adieu, here are the highlights of how coupons became such a crucial part of our daily life:

  1. CocaCola logo


    Coca-Cola makes history as the first coupon distributor for one free glass of Coke. As the business first began to grow, the company introduced paper coupons to increase growth and buyer incentive. Coca-Cola mailed customers paper coupons for one free glass of Coke, who could redeem it at local stores.

  2. 1909

    The grocer, C.W. Post, uses $0.01 coupons to help sell their Grape-Nuts breakfast cereal. The C.W. Post is the second known company to create such a discount for their customers.

  3. Palmolive logo A page out of an old magazine showing the Palmolive advertisment


    Magazines and newspapers begin carrying coupons advertising a free, Palmolive trial-size soap cake. Consumers just had to cut out the coupon and mail it to Palmolive to receive their free products.

  4. 1930s

    Coupon usage skyrocketed as The Great Depression forced families to cut costs with discounts and sales. Due to declining stock prices and a rising unemployment rate, individuals were forced to reanalyze how they spent and saved their money. In response to this, retailers began offering more coupons than ever before for products ranging from hygiene to food. Clipping coupons quickly became a way of life for families so they could afford necessities like groceries.

  5. 1940s

    As World War II began, production and manufacturing resources were repurposed for the war effort. This means that almost all products including cars, meat, oil, coffee, etc. were in limited supply. Due to this, the government began issuing ration books that were full of coupons that entitled the holder to purchase a fixed amount on a given day.

  6. 1950s

    During this decade, coupons began to get organized. Chain supermarkets began to widely use coupons in order to attract customers away from local, neighborhood stores.

  7. Nielsen Survey branding An old grocery coupon worth 6 cents


    The Nielsen Coupon Clearing House, which is the first company devoted entirely to coupon redemption, is founded. Also known as NCH, this company serves as the middleman between manufacturers and retailers.

  8. 1965

    Coupon popularity continues to grow, and, by this year, half of all Americans clipped coupons regularly. By this time, coupons were readily available in newspapers, magazines, and in the mail.

  9. 1974

    The Uniform Code Council first implemented Universal Product Codes, which are barcodes and numbers that universally identify products. These codes made sales, inventory, and couponing easier than ever before.

  10. The number 100


    The 100th Anniversary of the invention and distribution of the first coupon is celebrated.

  11. 1990s

    With the invention of the internet, coupons move to a digital platform. This soon leads the way for downloadable and online coupon codes to take over the market.

  12. 1992

    This year marked a high point in the usage of printed coupons as over 7.9 billion discounts were redeemed.

  13. amazon.com logo


    The first secure retail transaction was completed over the web. This paved the way for online shopping as we know it today, and only increased the demand for online coupons. A year after this transaction occurred, Amazon.com and eBay were launched.

  14. 1997

    It's reported that in this year, 83% of Americans were regularly using coupons. Due to this, it comes as no surprise that consumers saved $2.9 billion and redeemed approximately 4.8 billion coupons during this time.

  15. 1998

    September is dubbed National Coupon Month.

  16. Promocodes.com brand mark


    Promocodes.com, a leading coupon platform of online coupons and discount codes, is founded. This site offers thousands of daily deals on the largest brands and retailers around the world.

  17. 2008

    As mobile technology increases, users are finally able to display scannable coupons at checkout on their device.

  18. 2010

    Online coupons go social! Deals are now available for luxury purchases like vacation packages, and not just for day-to-day necessities.

  19. 2010

    The show Extreme Couponing debuts, causing a nationwide frenzy as stars show how they routinely save hundreds.

  20. The number 125


    The 125th Anniversary of the invention and distribution of the first coupon is celebrated.


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