Last summer companies waged all hot bottles to earn the right to stop the "official" 1984 Olympic logo on their merchandise and by August items ranging from candybars to cars were tagged with the mark of the Games.
Although Harvard's reunions do not sport quite as many events, they usually seem to offer just as many mementos to the participants.
But not this year.
For the members of the class of 1960 and their families, there will be, of course, T-shirts and hats given out, plus visors for the women, caps for the kiddies and Harvard ties for the men. But aside from a towel, there won't be anything else for alumni to stuff into their totebag to take home this year.
"We decided to go with fewer, better quality items this year. Instead of giving out a lot of junk," says Marion Briefer, administrative assistant for the 25th reunion office.
In previous years, returning class members, their spouses and children have been dressed from head to toe with merchandise bearing the slogan of their class reunion.
Breifer adds that aside from the usual towels and garbage cans, the only other minor trinket given out will be soap. However, she says that she doubts anybody will take the soap home as a reminder of their stay at Harvard during reunion week.
Even the slogan has been cut back this year. Unlike past years, no clever motto has been created. Instead there is just a big Harvard shield with the number 60 next to it.
The amount of goodies provided in past years, moreover, makes this year's handouts appear meager. For example, in 1979, everything from to shirts to hats to playing cards both that year's reunion slogan. "The Great Comeback of '54." When the Class of 1956 held its reunion in 1981, even trash cans and license plates accompanied the usual frisbees and towels on the list of trinkets bearing the MCMLVI REDUX slogan.
For the class of 1960, however, there are no license plates and no playing cards to occupy the kids' attention between the Red Son games and the field trips they attend while their parents are off at their planned events. In fact, even the traditional aprons for the wives of the Harvard alumni which have been provided in previous years have been omitted (ending what some might call an outrageous display of sexism).
Briefer estimates that Harvard will spend about $30,000 to provide the totes, towels and t-shirts to the 2500 people who attend this year's reunion. Included in that 2500 are about 50 percent of the class, their wives and "about 1000 kids," Briefer adds.
Each family that attends "Camp Harvard" for their week of festivities pays a fee of $530. The totebag full of "Veritas" momentos, however are mostly paid for by the University Breifer said.
Last year's reunion cost $724,729 of which Class members paid only $245.415 in registration fees. Briefer says Harvard picked up the other $479.114, or about two-thirds of the entire cost.
Harvard is not the only one who is moving toward higher quality merchandise. The Coop also has started using more expensive materials in both their glasses are and insignia department clothing.
"Updated looks and styles in sweaters and shirts, including a 100 percent cotton sweater, are geared more toward women and athletic guys," says Clifford Brown, retailer for the Coop's Harvard insignia clothing department.
He adds that reunion and commencement time are traditionally their best periods for selling Harvard logo merchandise.
For those who find that Harvard provided extras are not enough, they can purchase cheerleading outfits and muscle shirts for their toddlers and small children, or an official Harvard wine carafe set with four glasses, says Charlie McDonald, buyer for the Coop's glassware and stationery department