I was just reading an interesting article about the beginnings of our “throwaway culture,” which actually happened at the end of the 1900s as raw materials became cheaper and manufacturing more efficient. One example cited was an early imprinted promotional product:
“In the 1880s Waterbury produced pocket watches at such low cost that they became promotional giveaways to department store customers who bought expensive winter coats. ”
Back then, it was pretty revolutionary to have a $1 watch that could be used as a giveaway when most watches cost at least $10. (In the 1880s, you could probably get a meal for a nickel and had to walk 40 miles to school uphill both ways). Over 100 years later, promotional watches are still a popular giveaway item.