Classic Game Show Parting Gifts

If you didn't win the game, you still got to take home some groovy prizes!

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Today, almost all game shows are played for cash. There are some exceptions, like The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal. But the vast majority of games offer mostly cash prizes.

Many classic game shows also offered cash, but they also gave contestants who didn't win their games something to remember their experience with: Consolation prizes (also known as parting gifts). These prizes were usually donated by sponsors and could be anything from food to appliances to cosmetics.

Game show announcers would name and describe the prizes at the beginning of the show (or sometimes at the end).

Here are some of the fun things that contestants got to take home after being a game show contestant.

1. The Match Game

Players on The Match Game in 1976, who didn't win big, still ended up with some nifty goodies. For example:

  • Chrome Hot Seats -- These were folding metal chairs in an assortment of colors
  • Blammo Sugarless Bubble Gum (a year's supply)
  • A deep fryer and a year's supply of Golden Dipt coating
  • Mr. Coffee coffee makers (endorsed by Joe DiMaggio)
  • A wall clock and a supply of Noodle Roni

2. Jeopardy!

Today, those who finish in second and third place on Jeopardy! take home $1000 and $2000 respectively. Back when the show was just getting going, however, these second and third place finishers often won things like artwork, vacations, and magazine subscriptions. All three contestants also got a copy of the home game.

3. Queen for a Day

Winners on Queen for a Day won items that would help their family and households, most of them expensive. Those who didn't fare so well still won smaller prizes of things like:

  • Toaster ovens or electric frying pans
  • Pantyhose
  • Bottles of perfume
  • A meat grinder

4. Card Sharks

Runners-up on Card Sharks could count on a year's supply of Jiffy Pop popcorn, a copy of the home game, and another prize that could be anything from a dishwasher to a crate full of disposable gloves.

5. Concentration

Concentration offered many of the usual parting gifts including copies of the home game, supplies of convenience foods, small kitchen appliances, and sporting goods. However, there's at least one report floating out there that claims a contestant won a large tray of gourmet carrot cake as her consolation prize on this game show.

6. Wheel of Fortune

Even back when contestants could shop for their own prizes on Wheel of Fortune (instead of taking home the money they had earned), parting gifts were common for all players on the show. Some items that Wheel contestants could go home with just for playing were:

  • Hair product from Paul Mitchell
  • A year's supply of Tic Tacs
  • A variety of products from Tetley Tea

7. Pyramid

Pyramid has aired in several different versions over the years, but the parting gifts have always been of the same calibre. Here are some examples:

  • A year's supply of Lee Press-On Nails
  • Digital wristwatches
  • Cough syrup and cold medication
  • Frozen vegetables courtesy Green Giant
  • Woolite laundry detergent
  • Coupons for Kentucky Fried Chicken (now called KFC)

As you can see, it was always more desirable to win the main game and take home a nice chunk of money - or at least some truly valuable prizes like cars and vacations.

Heck, some game shows even gave away homes. But if you had to wander away with nothing to show for it, at least these parting gifts would add to the cool story you could tell your friends about your time on the game show.