Let Us Know What Kind of Free Stuff You Really Want

radio cartoonWhen we ask people to contribute to our public-radio Freakonomics podcast, our sponsor station WNYC offers some of the standard public-radio gifts: a Freakonomics t-shirt, a coffee mug, copies of our books, etc. I am curious what sort of gifts people really want. The radio station tells us that people love love love tote bags, but as someone who almost never carries a tote bag, I am skeptical. But I am also happy to be proven wrong. So please let us know via the poll below, and also write in answers in the comments. Thanks.

[poll id=”25″]


Flash drive in first place? I guess swag for nerds

Paul M.

And this is the part where we start talking about the cost to produce and ship your free gifts.

Maybe include what the price of the item is so we can net out the cost to donation to ensure you receive the level of support we want you to receive. I like T-shirts, but I am certain they will cost more than mugs, totes, or flashdrives. And that flash drive idea is pretty awesome.

Also, just to mess with you I answered the poll with the anticipated answer, not my true answer. ;)


An autographed photo of Levitt.


A really big mug not one of those 10 ozs ones. Small bag for electronic paraphernalia like flash drives, ear phones, chargers, etc.

Misty Boring

I would buy a tshirt with a picture just the picture of your first book cover. And I think if it was a lil cheaper you'd get more buyers

Morgan Pratt

I believe t-shirts are pretty cool. However, there are so many big, baggy, unflattering disgusting t-shirts. Maybe try investing in some feminine t-shirts with a nice v-neck or something. :)

Other: baby animals. Haha. Jk.


I might acually use either magnetic or static-cling car stickers. Also office stuff that I could both use and show off, like a cube-of-notepaper with logos, water bottle, or mousepad, etc.


Lunch. I want a free lunch.

Get to work on it, economists!

Roger Fierro

A pencil case. Know thy audience.


I agree with people who say to make it something we actually will use. If it's just swag (like a coffee mug), I'll likely pitch it out anyway, so it's not much of a draw.
1. Umbrella, but make it a big golf-sized one, not the tiny foldable junk. Everyone needs an umbrella.
2. A backup battery for my cell phone. I see them advertised for as little as $10-20 on Amazon, so they're not too expensive. I've got one I use often, and wouldn't mind having a couple more to keep in case of power outages. They often double as flashlights, so I could even keep one in the car glove compartment for emergencies.
3. I suppose a tote bag might be OK, but only if it's one of those cool nylon ones that folds up to the size of a walnut.
4. Maybe a nice pair of wool socks?


a good travel mug


Baggage tags/key-rings- I am forever looking for ways to personalise my bags on the conveyer belt at the airport. Lots of visibility there.


winter hat

Michael Fay

Tote bags, as they are usually presented, are too small and of limited utility for me. What I would like are reusable grocery bags. Moderately large, with at least a 6 inch base, and a liner for the bottom of the bag. Nylon is better than canvas because it's easier to clean and lighter, but it should be a good quality nylon. Otherwise canvas would be better -


Something free? Cash, duh. Don't you think we pay attention to this show? Nothing better than good old fungible cash with which we can choose our own totes, mugs, surgical masks, or other widgets to our liking...


Something that's slightly risque with an overarching point, but without a big logo... like a shirt or mug that reads, "Public Radio, bitches!" a la Jesse Pinkman. If you can get Carl Castle to adopt the slogan, it will be pure gold.


A book of the Steph(v)ens' top 20 favorite journal articles of all time... Or pocket protectors.

green girl

sig bottle, bpa free plastic bottle or reusable coffee mug


Special Freakonomics beer is a gift you can give again and again. How many tote bags and/or coffee mugs does one human actually need?