Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

Return to the Frank Passic
Home Page  

Return to the Albion Michigan Home Page

Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

WISE OWL QUIZZETTE

Morning Star, August 30, 1998, pg. 5

Albion once had a variety of neighborhood and "diner" restaurants in the days before fast food eating. Some of our readers might remember coin-operated machines that used to sit on the counters and tables to amuse and entertain the customer while they waited for their food. Sometimes for a long time.

Here in Albion in the late 1940s in certain restaurants such as the College Eat Shop, there were placed the Wise Owl Quizzette coin-operated napkin machines. These were manufactured here in Michigan by the Continental Service & Equipment Company of Detroit, a division of the Mercury Steel Corporation on Holbrook Avenue. The "Quizzette" machine was made of cold rolled steel, and finished in a hammered gray color with chrome trim. It measured 10 inches high and 5 inches wide.

The purpose of the "Quizzette" was not the napkins, which were placed on the sides for free, but rather the coin-operated mechanism in the center. A person would place a penny in the solo, pull the lever down and out would pop a small card with an educational quiz question. This, by the way, was in the days before "Jeopardy." Each machine held 500 quizzes, and held approximately $5.00 in "wheat" pennies.

In order to receive the answer, you had to put in another penny for the next card, which had the answer, and the next question. Imagine a boy taking a girl out for a soda and trying to impress her with his knowledge via these machines. Cards included such a question as: "Q. How many stares are there?" "A: 48." The back side of the card had some public service message such as "Don’t Drink and Drive" or "Courtesy Prevents Accidents."

As time went on, some clever college students tried to defeat the machine by using their restaurant knife to try and pull out a card for free. No one however tried using dimes instead of pennies, which it also could take.

Because they were considered an educational device that did not incorporate amusement or gaming features, the U.S. Treasury Department declared in 1948 that the machines were exempt from the special tax that existed at the time.

How many Albion residents remember the Wise Owl Quizzette napkin machines here in town? From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of one of those machines, a sample card, and a promotional poster. on this card we find the answer to the previous card was "Irvin S. Cobb." The new question is, "What is meant by ‘Catholic Taste?’" The answer? You’ll have to put in another penny for that.


Wise Owl Quizzette Vending Machine and Napkin Holder


Wise Owl Quizzette Napkin


Wise Owl Quizzette Poster

Next: PEABODY/GOTHIC/MILLRACE


Back to the Top of this Page

All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic

Did you enjoy this page?

If you've enjoyed learning about Albion history from this site, please write us a note in the Albion Guestbook. We hope you will take the time to share your interest and stories related to Albion history, especially if you have any ancestors from Albion, please let us know.

Learn more about Albion Michigan!
Visit the Albion home page.

Search the AlbionMich.com website

Albion History Articles

Historical Notebook  |  From the Archives  |  Subject List  |  100 Years Ago


Kept current by: Robin James

Indices Unlimited Indexing Services


And now a word from our sponsors

See prints of Albion Michigan , by Maggie LaNoue, the owner of the Albion Home Page.

Help to sponsor these web pages and this site.

Albion Design and Carlson Craft have worked together to offer an amazing selection of wedding invitations online. From invites, to rsvps, gifts and more, Carlson Craft has an outstanding 60 year history of creating wedding stationery packages designed to the personal tastes of each bride and groom. With their easy online ordering service and quick turn around, you will appreciate the ease of ordering and the prices also! You can order a sample card of any invitation to see the quality, and proof the wording of the invitations online.
View wedding invitations online: Design.carlsoncraft.com

wedding invitations michigan