What is a coupon, anyway? Crack open any dictionary and you’re sure to find a definition that goes something like this:
\CUE-pon\ or \COO-pon\, noun, A “coupon” is a voucher which entitles the holder to a special offer or consideration.
We can see that in its most basic form, a coupon is worth something. But you already knew that!
But did you know that the word has its origins in 1820s France, from the French verb “couper,” meaning “to cut?” This made sense at the time because the original definition of coupon referred to the paperwork that a 19th century bond buyer kept as proof of both their investment and the expected return once the bond repayment was due. They literally detached a portion of the bond document for the investor to keep. Sounds kind of like clipping a…? Say it with me – Vive le coupon!
Other words commonly used throughout history in place of “coupon” include voucher, token, ticket, marker, comp, detachment, and check.
Wait a minute… How did we end up in 1820s France when talking about a coupon? Well that’s the origin of the word, but hardly the end of the story. The legacy that is the modern coupon includes such icons as Coca Cola, Post Cereals and other major brands that have become household names thanks in part to the humble coupon.
Before the 1800s drew to a close, the Coca Cola Company was incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1887 by an enterprising businessman named Asa Candler. He had innovative ideas about how to get the little known tasty tonic into everyone’s hands, and that plan included the first widespread use of a coupon as we know it today. Employees gave out coupons, Magazines ran ads with cut-out coupons, and coupons arrived in residential mailboxes – all for a free Coca Cola. Candler’s plan was so successful that in 1895 he was able to tell the company’s stockholders that Coca Cola was being served in every state in the U.S.
While Candler’s strategy made Coca Cola famous, it’s what happened next that moved coupons into the mainstream consciousness of consumers in the United States.
In 1909, C. W. Post (yes, of Post Cereal fame) began issuing coupons for one-cent savings on his new breakfast cereal, Grape Nuts, and other items. This began the craze that is the modern coupon. Post’s widespread coupon use, and later the 1930s Great Depression that gripped the country, made coupons a common sight at stores and markets as families stretched their paychecks as far as possible during both good and bad financial times.
Things changed dramatically for the coupon in the early 1990s when the Internet or World Wide Web became an accepted system of information exchange between consumers and companies. Now there are entire websites dedicated to coupon hunting and online communities of deal finders that share the discounts they find.
Thanks to Coca Cola, Post, and the Internet (not to mention all of us for embracing the idea), coupons are now available by mail, newspapers, magazine, and more recently online. Coupons are credited with generating nearly ten billion dollars in commerce a year in this country alone.
Coupons take many forms including sales, promotions, discounts, rebates, shipping deals, first-time buyer deals, freebies, and more. Sometimes coupons cover a particular item, a group of items, product category, or every item in a store. And with most online coupons we no longer have to print them out and take them to a store (we can of course, in some cases). We can just find a good deal and shop online.
All in one. Easy, fast, smart. Coupons (and shopping) have come a long way.
Perhaps the biggest step in the accessibility of coupons is the acceptance of the Internet as a shopping tool. Think about it. Before the Internet was around, we had to wait for a coupon deal to come to us (via mail, newspaper, magazine, flyer). But now we can go to the deals and find exactly what we want. No more waiting. No more sifting. No more newsprint on the fingers.
Nearly every home in the U.S. has Internet access and shoppers come from everywhere to look through coupon sites on the web. What is it we seek? We call them: coupon codes, promotional codes, promotion codes, discount codes, key codes, promo codes, shopping codes, voucher codes, and source codes. They are all great ways to shop smart and find what you want at a discount. The Internet allows you to actively seek the deals you want rather than waiting for the right coupon to come your way.
And you can do all this from the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas. Or in your Batman outfit. It’s up to you.
Take Savings.com for example. You go to the website, enter the product you’re looking for, and up pops all kinds of deals, discounts, savings, coupons, codes, promotions, etc. From there you simply find one that matches what you’re looking for.