Trick or Treat: Silly Trinkets and Other Trade Show Toys

Driving west southwest out of Las Vegas, my mind settled back and I went over, what for me, was the 1995 SIA trade show. The strong emergence of women-owned/operated companies, the step-in bindings, and of course, all the free goodies I snagged. Like a pirate on Halloween, I scooped up every gimmick of a sales promotion trinket I could lay my hands on.

Trinkets are often small token articles that usually take the form of a toy and/or ornament. They have for centuries been traded among fellow travelers, and ever since vacuum salesmen of the early 50s gave little miniature vacuum toys to the housewives they pitched their wares to, American businesses have used a trillion varieties of trinkets to remind the possible client of their product. In either case, there is significant meaning tied to these symbols.

Waiting in the McDonald’s drive-through in Barstow, I explored the contents of the booty I had collected. I pondered, what could these trinkets mean?

The first shimmery articles to catch my gaze were the Ride comb and the Liquid travel toothbrush. These seem to say it’s important to look good and feel fresh even on the go. Furthermore, these articles demand good manners, and as was demonstrated by the accuracy of the statue of a golden man pissing (at the Ride booth), it seems that hygiene is held in high regard by Ride and co. The next item among my treasure was the Da Kine noseguard key chain. The message: protection from life’s sharp points is a must.

I recalled another trinket, although I was not hardy enough to come away with one: the TransWorld SNOWboarding urinal strainer. Good pure honest integrity is the key to success. Ride also made one, further stressing their commitment to hygiene.

Next I pulled from my bag a super bouncy rubber ball. This ball, from Spry, like the name of the company, says be fun, lighthearted, and jovial. The rest of my stash was made up of a thousand different stickers. Stickers, by their graphics and images, provide, like no other a means of identity. At first glance they yield immediately the company’s vibe.

The gimmick sales-promotion trinket can and does go a long way to identify a company. Giving the customer something for free is always a good way to form a bond. And by the clever use of gimmicks like these, the company name can be spread far beyond the sales floor.