Back when we were kids in the 80s, our weekly pocket money may have only been about 50p, but to us it was a king’s ransom, enabling us to purchase copious amounts of penny sweets, comics and magazines. And even when our funds began to run low, we were always thankful for the generous free gifts that came packaged with magazines, confectionery, cereal boxes, takeaway food and even tea bags.
Below are 10 absolutely amazing freebies that only 80s kids will be able to truly appreciate.
10. McDonald’s Changeables
The fast-food chain McDonalds has never stopped giving away toys, but we suspect you will join us in agreeing that today’s Happy Meal freebies aren’t a patch on the ones they offered during the 1980s.
Our particular favourites were the Changeables – basically Transformers in fast food form, that enabled you to turn a Big Mac, fries or milkshake into an Optimus Prime-style robot.
9. NatWest bank pigs
Offered by NatWest Bank to encourage young people to open savings accounts with them, this gorgeous collection of money boxes featured the characters Woody, Annabel, Maxwell, Lady Hilary and Sir Nathaniel.
The family of collectible pigs are still extremely sought after, with people offering a complete collection on eBay for up to £100.
8. Kellogg’s Bike Reflectors
Possibly the greatest cereal box free gift of all time, Kellogg’s colourful bike reflectors made us safer on the streets after we clipped them onto the spokes of our Raleigh BMX.
But it didn’t end there, because 1980s cereal boxes offered us a wide variety of fantastic freebies, including water games, Snap, Crackle and Pop pencil toppers, rubber poppers and 3D glasses.
7. Walkers crisps Tazos
Tazos were found with a number of different products during our childhood, but we particularly remember the ones that were distributed within packs of Walkers crisps.
Tazos were collectible circular disks that each had a score value, and we remember some of the more dedicated collectors in our school class having a dedicated folder to store them in.
6. Temporary tattoos
During the 1980s we were always trying to look older, and one of the ways of impressing the older children in our neighbourhood was to affix temporary tattoos to our upper arms.
Often given away free with magazines or comics, temporary tattoos were applied with a wet sponge and a bit of patience, and wore off within a couple of weeks.
5. Kellogg’s cereal bowls
Kellogg’s still occasionally has a breakfast bowl giveaway, but the modern cheap-looking versions are nowhere near as good as the ones we ate our breakfast cereal from during the 80s and 90s.
Whether you preferred the Cornelius Rooster, Snap, Crackle and Pop or Tony the Tiger version, these collectible bowls made our morning cereal taste even better than it normally did.
4. Tetley Tea Folk figurines
Used to advertise Tetley tea bags since 1973, the Tetley Tea Folk consisted of the characters Gaffer, Sydney, Maurice, Clarence, Gordon, Tina and Archie.
So what better way to encourage adults to purchase a box of Tetley tea than to offer one of the seven characters as tiny figurines for their children to enjoy?
3. Candy cigarette cards
Candy cigarettes were already a popular sweet when we were young, allowing us to pretend to smoke real cigarettes which most definitely made us look extremely cool, attractive and mature.
But in case the delicious-tasting cigarettes didn’t provide us with enough joy by themselves, they also came packaged with collectible cards featuring images of everything from cartoon characters to sporting heroes.
2. Kinder Surprise Tiny Terrapins
Another freebie that has most definitely diminished in quality over the years, Kinder Surprise Eggs have provided us with a number of amazing collections over the years, including City Crocodiles, Happy Hippos and Funny Elephants.
But our very favourite chocolate egg-based freebie were the extremely cute Tiny Terrapins, our favourite character of which was the newborn baby breaking free from his egg.
1. Smash Hits stickers and badges
Magazines like Smash Hits often came packaged with some brilliant pop star-based free gifts, including stickers that we would affix to the head of our bed at the first available opportunity.
Another popular pop music giveaway were badges featuring the likes of Wham!, New Kids on the Block and Kylie Minogue, which were perfect for pinning to our school bag.