The phrase “Collect all 4,” or some variation thereof, has become the bane of every parent’s existence, but the motivation behind the phrase is hardly new. For more than 100 years, as companies attempted to sell more stuff, they included free toy prizes with the purchase of a product in order to encourage parents to buy their brand, again and again and again.

Sometimes, toy premiums were only given out in-store after a purchase, while others required mailing in a certain number of box tops or, later, UPC barcodes as proof-of-purchase. But the most satisfying reveal was achieved by sealing the toy directly inside the product’s box.

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes offered the first-ever cereal-box prize in 1909, which required kids to mail in proof of purchasing two boxes to receive a free copy of “The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book.” Eventually, Kellogg's upped the price to 10 cents, but that didn’t stop customers from claiming them.

Quickly, the giveaway toys moved beyond cereal boxes to all types of processed-food packaging, from candy bars to bread to canned peas. Other premiums were given away at gas stations, such as the miniature model cars given out by Mobil, or fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s, whose Happy Meals entice children to finish their meals with the promise of a toy.

The Cracker Jack Company introduced its first toy surprises in 1912, which included a range of items like tops, tin soldiers, celluloid lamps, puzzles, and movie slide cards. The company’s most valuable premiums today are likely the baseball cards issued during the 1910s, such as the 1915 Joe Jackson cards, which have sold for more than $100,000.

In the 1930s, radio programs utilized toy premiums through partnerships with major brands like Ovaltine or Libby’s Evaporated Milk, offering toy prizes like rings, posters, figurines, and pinbacks related to certain children’s shows. Over the years, many premiums also referenced characters from comic books, films, and television shows, including favorites like Buck Rogers, Superman, Howdy Doody, Captain America, Archie, Batman, and the Looney Tunes.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Advertising Antiques

Advertising Antiques

This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Ad Access

Ad Access

Duke University's library has pulled together an impressive collection of over 7,000 ads printed in U.S. and Canadi… [read review or visit site]

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]

American Package Museum

American Package Museum

Ian House's gallery of early 20th Century American package designs. Browse the exhibits in slide show mode or view … [read review or visit site]

Found in Moms Basement

Found in Moms Basement

Paula Zargaj-Reynolds’ blog, an extensive collection of 20th century vintage advertising, is a visual feast. Scro… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage F & H Mold & Die Works 16 Plastic Car Lot ***nice***Mixed Lot Of Vintage '50s '60s '70s Metal Bicycle License Plate Cereal PremiumsCelluloid Cracker Jack Charm Lot1940's Lone Ranger Atomic Bomb Ring Cereal Premium Great Condition1943 Kelloggs Military Squadron Pep Pins Near Complete Set Of 31 Cereal Pinbacks1960's Vintage Robby Robot Moves In Spaceship Gumball Cracker Jack Charm Rare!Vintage 1960s Rat Fink Figure Toy Gumball Prize Whiskers Rhinestone Eyes RingVintage Cracker Jack Prize Gumball Machine Toy Celluloid Charm Lot Devil Santa12 Vintage Batman Tom & Jerry Green Hornet Filix ++more Flicker Ring Vari Vue Vintage Toy Cowboy Ring - Premium - Tom Mix? - Brass - Adjustable -free Shipping1939 Radio Orphan Annie Roa Premium Secret Code Decoder Pin Pinback Badge70 Mixed Lot Of Crackerjack Celluloid Toy Prizes Charms 1940's11 Rare Halloween Celluloid Lot Cracker Jack Gumball Charms Devils Skulls CatRare Old Radio Orphan Annie Secret Society Silver Star Advertising Premium RingRare Chex Cereal Toy Aircraft Carrier Premium - SealedAntique Cracker Jack Kitchen Cabinet Dish Hutch Tin Litho Toy PrizeVg 1983 Kelloggs Tony The Tiger Cereal Premium Stainless Cereal SpoonLot Of 175+ Plastic Cracker Jack Toys & Bubble Gum Ball Machine Vending CharmsSet Of Vintage 1950s Nabisco Cereal Premium Deep-sea Fish Plastic FiguresDinosaur Coins Lot Of 5 Post Cereal Premium 1979 3 Sealed Fruity PebblesKelloggs Cereal, Cracker Jacks Toys 1940s & 50s Cartoon Buttoms Puzzles MoreS614. Vintage: Lot Of 3: Superman Pep Tin-litho Pinbacks From Kellogg's (1940's)Antique Cracker Jack 2 Pc Train Engine & Passenger Car Tin Litho Toy PrizeAntique Cracker Jack Noise Maker Kricket Chirper Tin Litho Toy PrizeCracker Jack Train Tracks- Consists Of 6 Curved Track, 5 Straight Track, 3 TreesHuge Collection Of Fast Food Toys Circa Late 80's To Early 2000's Freakies Cereal Premium Set Of 4 Vintage Plastic Figure PremiumsHuge 194 Lot Mcdonald's 1990s Kids Happy Meal Toys All Sealed Unused No ReserveGumball Charm Crakcer Jack Eppy Toy Prize Vinatge PlasticMcdonald's Nintendo Super Mario Happy Meal Display +extrasVintage Mcdonalds Happy Meal Magic Cookie Maker Mcdonalds 2017 Complete Set Of 15 Teenie Beanie Boos1940's Lone Ranger Atomic Bomb Ring Cereal Premium Great ConditionVintage Cracker Jack Charms Prize Toy Lot Plus Parts & PiecesHuge Mcdonalds Happy Meal Toy Lot Over 75! New Sealed Sets Transformers Panda 2017 Teenie Beanie Boo's Happy Meal Set - 15 ToysVintage Gumball Cracker Jack Toy Prize Charm Premium Huge Lot1938 Lone Ranger Premium Picture Series A The Lone Ranger Foils A Murderer2017 Teenie Beanie Boo's Happy Meal Set - 15 ToysMcdonald's Super Mario Toy DisplayVintage 1970's 1980's Lot Of Arby's Mr Men Little Miss Figures Cake ToppersSuper Mario Display From Mcdonald's 2017 ~~ No Reserve ~~ Same Day Shipping ~~~~Mcdonald's Happy Meals 2017 Ty Teenie Beanie Boos. Complete Set Mcdonalds 2017 Complete Set Of 15 Teenie Beanie Boos1967 Captain Action & Action Boy Give-away Comic Book Ideal Toy PremiumF & F Cereal Cars Lot Of 11 Mustangs, Cougars, Boats Good ConditionMcdonald's Teenie Beanie Boo's Happy Meal Toys Full Set Of 15 *new* Vintage Small Cast Iron Pup Paperweight With Advertising: Dall B-nMix Lot Vtg Plastic Cracker Jack Charm Prize Toy Gumball Tumbling Tommy, GliderMcdonald's Happy Meal Toys Super Mario - Complete Set - Free Priority ShippingMcdonalds Mcnugget Buddies 1992 Halloween Set CompleteMcdonald's Super Mario Happy Meal Toys Complete Set Of 8 New 2017Vintage Mcdonalds Food Transformers Lot Egg Mcmuffin, Fries, Big MacVintage Mcdonalds And Others Toys Lot 15lbs 80s-90s Olympics CerealMcdonald's Ty Teenie Beenie Boos -complete Set Of 15 (unopened)27 Vtg 1950's Nosco Stand-up Cracker Jack Toy Plastic Prize Western Cowboy HorseRare 1958~missile Launcher~cereal Premium Toy2017 Mcdonald's Super Mario Happy Meal Set Of 8 ToysVtg Lot All Glass Animals Cameos Flowers Cracker Jack Gumball Prize Charms 53 Vintage Plastic Charms Cracker Jack's ~ Gum Ball Machine ~ Popeye~ Food~troll