Not Even Close To 101 Uses For Hamburger

by Don Kern




(front cover)


Not Even Close

To 101 Uses for Hamburger








by Don Kern



Ever read those ads in the classified section of the tabloid newspapers? The ones that offer to sell you recipes for “The Best Chili East of the Pecos,” or “County Fair Award Winning Strawberry Jam”? I used to see them, and it occurred to me that in a newspaper like the National Enquirer, which has a circulation of over six million, that I could run an advertisement for something that I could put together, and make a lot of money in a very short time.

I wrote to the National Enquirer, and got their advertising rates. I found out that they wanted a sample of the product that was to be advertised, so I assembled a number of hamburger recipes from various sources, (some I had tried, some I hadn’t), went in to work early for a couple days and typed up my first “book.” I ran several copies on the boss’s copier. I composed an ad that looked something like this:  

To 101 Uses for Hamburger
10 great recipes
$2.00, SASE to Recipe,

 I sent the ad, a copy of my new booklet, and a check for $115.00 to the National Enquirer.

I waited about a month, occasionally daydreaming about how I would spend the money that I would make through this adventure. Just about the time I was wondering if they actually received my ad, I went to the Post Office one Saturday morning, and found one envelope in my box, addressed to RECIPE. I ripped open the envelope, and, lo and behold, there were two one-dollar bills--my first order, and a big step on the way to my first million.

Of course, I hurried across the street to the grocery store, and bought a copy of the Enquirer. Sure enough, there was my ad in the classified section--almost jumping off the page. How could anyone miss it? Hmm, out of six million readers, if only one out of a thousand respond, I’ll make, let’s see, 6000 X $2.00=TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS on this one little booklet!!  

The next day, I picked up the mail from the PO box. Twelve letters this time. But surprise, no orders for my book. Instead I opened letter after letter which offered me anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 if I would only send $2.00 to each of the four people on the list at the bottom of the page, take the guy off the top of the list and add my name to the bottom, then send out either 100, 200, or 500 copies of this letter to other “opportunity seekers.” The letters explained that they knew my ad didn’t make me any money. Neither did theirs. But here’s a way to recoup the investment.

The next three weeks brought many similar responses. Almost all were of the “chain letter” variety, with various twists that were meant to make THIS letter the one to which I would respond. One came with a picture of a Playboy Bunny as the front page. One advocated tithing any money that was made, with the idea that God would be on your side if you responded. Several tried to make me think that I was close to the beginning of the chain, so my chances were much greater of being successful by using this one. Some said that “fresh mailing lists” were the key to success, and, of course, I could order these lists from the originator of this letter (for a small fee). Most said that 20% of people would respond to this type of letter. I did some more math--Assuming everyone who receives one of these letters receives 200, and 20% respond, the odds were 20% of 1 out of 200 that someone would choose MY letter--ONE OUT OF A THOUSAND!

I also received about 10 responses from other publications, offering to run my ad in their classifieds for a similar fee. I thought maybe someone had stamped the word “SUCKER” on my forehead.

Probably the neatest response I received was a letter from a guy in Oregon, who was in the business of making oak furniture, trying to find out if my ad did any good. He was contemplating a similar ad. I wrote him a letter relating my experience, and included several of the letters I had received. He wrote back and told me that I was the only one who had responded to him out of about 20 letters he had sent out. He complained (in a good natured manner) that I had sent him so many of my letters that he had to pay extra postage to pick it up. He also said he got quite a chuckle out of the chain letters I had sent him. If I’m ever in Oregon, I’m going to look him up. Maybe HE made a million dollars.

The responses kept coming every day for about three weeks. I was still getting responses trickling in for about a year. All told, I did sell three copies of my booklet. One to the first person who replied, one to a lady in Missouri who sent me a check for $2.00, (I never cashed the check--kept it for my scrap book.) and one to my grandmother, who insisted on giving me $2.00.

So, did I ever actually try one of those chain letters to see if I could make thousands of dollars? Maybe. But that would be another story, wouldn’t it? Incidentally, if you want a copy of my booklet, send $2.00..........


(back cover)


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