The 1998 Free Stuff Awards

by Matthew M. Lug, Graduate Student, Electrical Engineering

These awards originally appeared in Newspeak, Volume 26 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: National Instruments, for their autopoint pencils.
Runner Up: Teradyne, for their mechanical pencils.

Best Pen
Winner: Rizzo Associates, Inc., for their green, gold-trimmed, Cross-type pens.
Runner Up: Sikorsky Aircraft, for their black, gold-trimmed pens.

Best Highlighter
Winner: United Technologies, for their three highlighter set inside a triangular case, which won this award last year.
Runner Up: Air Products, for their flat triangular triple highlighter, which is of the same design as the Mitre highlighter that was the runner up in this category last year.

Best Sticky Note Pad
Winner: PriceWaterhouse Coopers, for their large beige note pads.
Runners Up: Raytheon and Lucent Technologies, for their large white note pads.

Best Flashlight
Winner: Kidde Fenwal, for their larger flashlights that run on two AA batteries.
Runner Up: Air Products, for their smaller disposable flashlights.

Best Key Chain
Winner: Lucent Technologies, for their battery powered LED key chains.
Runner Up: Natural Microsystems, for their cell phone style key chains that have a pen for an antenna.

Best Mousepad
Winner: Nexion, for their large round mousepads.
Runner Up: Unilever, for their smaller, thin, round mousepads.

Best Flying Object
Winner: Clarion and Pratt & Whitney, for their balsa planes.
Runners Up: Microstrategy and BDS, for their roomerangs.

Best Squishy, Stress-Reliever-Type Object
Winner: Bay Networks, for their squishy brains.
Runner Up: Aspect, for their squishy footballs.

Best Electronic Device
Winner: Becton Dickinson, for their digital thermometers.
Runner Up: Kidde Fenwal, for their calculators.

Best Coffee Mug
Winner: Fidelity Investments, for their large insulated coffee mugs, some of which came complete with coffee.
Runner Up: Travelers Insurance, for their smaller insulated coffee mugs.

Best Beverage Container (other than coffee mugs)
Winner: Tracer, for their glass pint glasses.
Runner Up: Lockheed Martin, for their large plastic cups with glitter and stuff floating around inside the lining. Unfortunately the glitter is also on the outside, so be careful if you shake them up.

Best Candy
Winner: CHA and MA Olson Co. Inc., for their nice assortments of various candy.
Runners Up: Fairchild Semiconductor, for their sugar and chocolate coated mints, and DeLorme, for their little chocolate globes.

Best Bag
Winner: Mitre, for their canvas bags.
Runner Up: Unilever, for their very large plastic bags.

Best T-shirt
Winner: Tracer, for their black t-shirts. I had to give them a resume for the shirt, but at least they were nice about it.
Runner Up: DataViz, for their t-shirt that had an interesting depiction of a sumo wrestler on a race horse. They freely gave the shirt to me when I told them what I was doing, and that I used their products.

Most Useful
Winner: Boston Scientific, for their mini first aid kits.
Runner Up: GE, for their sewing kits.

Most Useless
Winner: Boston Scientific, for their hard styrofoam footballs.
Runner Up: Data General, for their computer clip things.

Most Original
Winner: Texas Instruments, for their parachute guys, and Boston Scientific, for their Weebeans Augusta Lobster.
Runners Up: Millipore, for their blinking lights, and IDX, for their Tangle things.

Best Stuff That Clearly Wasn't Free
Winner: Becton Dickinson, for all their interesting stuff that wasn't free, while their thermometers were marked "please take one."

Best Stuff That Should Have Been Free
Winner: Stanley, for all the tools they had scattered over their table.

Best Office Supply Assortment
Winner: Air Products, for their assortment of pens, erasers, highlighters, flashlights, sticky note pads, measurement conversion cards, and plastic bags.

Most Original Assortment
Winner: Texas Instruments, for their assortment of parachute guys, Texas-shaped stress relievers, pens, and pencils.

Best Overall
Winner: Raytheon. They had a good variety of unique items.
Runner Up: Lucent Technologies. They had another good assortment, and their booth was also nearby when I needed another bag to carry all my stuff.

Most Disappointing
Winner: Lockheed Martin. They had a great assortment last year, but they only had glittery cups this year.

Worst Overall
Winner: Microsoft, for the second year in a row (I have nothing against the company in general, really). They still demanded a resume for their free whatever-it-was. From what the representative said, it seemed like they didn't want to give their products to just anyone (Biology majors were specifically mentioned). I guess a company like Microsoft can't afford to give stuff away without getting something in return. For discriminating against all those wonderful Bio people out there, Microsoft wins its second straight worst overall award.

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