The 1997 Free Stuff Awards

by Matthew M. Lug, WPI Class of 1999, Electrical Engineering Major

These awards originally appeared in Newspeak, Volume 25 Number 17. The complete article can be found at the Newspeak on-line archives at or Matthew M. Lug's personal archives at

Best Pencil
Winner: Lockheed Martin, for their large, white mechanical pencils with gold trim. They had these last year, but I still like them.
Runner Up: Texas Instruments, for their wooden pencils with the ends bent into the shape of the state of Texas. They look nice, but the erasers are rather useless until you break them off.

Best Pen
Winner: MCI, for their black, gold-trimmed pens with metal casings and spring-loaded clips. These are just nice pens, I wish I had gotten more.
Runner Up: Brooktrout Technology, for their blue, gold-trimmed pens that are of the same design as the Lockheed Martin pencils.

Best Highlighter
Winner: United Technologies, for their three highlighter set inside a triangular case. This was very unique.
Runner Up: Mitre, for their flat triangular triple highlighter, which is thicker and easier to hold than others like it.

Best Mousepad
Winner: Vicor, for their large mousepads with a humorous Noah's Ark scene.
Runner Up: Lockheed Martin, for their colorful mousepad with neat drawings on them.

Best Flashlight
Winner: Hamilton Standard, for their small, yet powerful squeeze lights.
Runner Up: Lockheed Martin, for their small, yet not quite as powerful flashlights.

Best Key Chain
Winner: Lotus, for their thin combination bottle opener/knife/corkscrew key chains.
Runner Up: Simplex, for their heavy, red, metal, useless key chains. Those of you who were in Riley last Tuesday night got a free demonstration of their other products.

Best Puzzle
Winner: APC, for their 3-color puzzle ball things.
Runner Up: AMS, for their 2-color puzzle ball things. There wasn't much competition in this category this year.

Best Beverage Container
Winner: Fidelity Investments, for their plastic coffee mugs that came complete with a packet of coffee.
Runner Up: Stratus, for their water bottles.

Most Useful
Winner: Becton Dickinson, for their Ace bandages.

Most Overpackaged
Winner: IBM, for their brochure on 3 floppy disks, wrapped in an oversized, shrink-wrapped box. Perhaps putting it on a CD would have been a better idea...

Honorable Mentions
C.W. Costello & Associates, for their mini tool sets. Sabre, for their keyboard wrist rests. Xyplex, for their CD wallets.

Best Stuff That I couldn't Tell Was Free
Winner: Becton Dickinson, they had a lot of stuff on their table, I guess most of it was free, but I couldn't tell at the time.

Best Stuff That Wasn't Supposed To Be Free
Winner: Quantum, for all those hard drives they had scattered on their table. I didn't actually take any, but it probably wouldn't have been that difficult...

Newspeak Editors' Choice
Winner: Becton Dickinson, for their digital thermometers. If you're wondering why this didn't win any of my awards, look back two categories.

Best Overall
Winner: Lockheed Martin, they had a nice assortment of stuff, which should be obvious from their awards.

Best Overall Office Supply Assortment
Winner: Air Products, they didn't have anything really exciting, but they did have good pens, erasers, highlighters, flashlights, sticky note pads, and plastic bags. The representative I spoke to seemed to think that something a little more unique would be better, but I liked what they had.

Worst Overall
Winner: Microsoft. While most company representatives gave away their free stuff just so they wouldn't have to carry it out at the end, the Microsoft representatives demanded a resume in exchange for one of their spiderballs, which they had last year anyway. They didn't have anything else, unlike last year when they had an assortment of items. Another example of progress I guess.

Created and maintained by Matthew M. Lug (Contact Matthew M. Lug)