The StarTribune website has an old White Castle ad from the July 20, 1933 edition of the Minneapolis Star posted up on its news history blog. At first glance, it seems like a fairly ordinary kind of special where you buy some and get some more free. In this case, buy two hamburgers and get three more free. What I find interesting though, is this language in the ad:
With the 10c you pay the regular price for 2 Hamburgers-you get 3 FREE, which we charge off as advertising to acquaint you with the superiority of White Castle Hamburgers. Incidentally you will see how clean and elegant is the interior of a White Castle. Then you will continue to be a White Castle customer and that will repay us for making this special inducement to once visit one of our many White Castles, which you will find in 16 metropolitan centers throughout the country.
Alrighty then, thanks for the explanation.
Was all that really necessary though? Did they anticipate that without it, the Twin Citians of the day would squint their eyes at that ad and wonder just what those White Castle folks were trying to pull by giving away free food? "Martha! Those White Castle people are giving away 3 hamburgers if you buy 2. They're up to something sneaky, I just know it!"
Well, maybe. Now that I think about it my grandmother on Mom's side might have been that suspicious type. It was the Depression and times were hard. She had to be wary of all sorts of con men, legal or not, who were hard-pressed and anxious to separate her from her money. Suspicion was a survival skill.
I used to fault her just a little for how suspicious and tight she was long after the Depression was over. I think I understand her a little better now.