Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Package Deal

Posted by Elyse Bruce on October 8, 2010

In The Times-News newspaper published in Hendersonville, North Carolina the following article was published on November 13, 1963:

PACKAGE DEAL SET FOR JACKSONVILLE – A big weekend football package involving three Southeastern Conference teams and Navy is now in the works for Jacksonville, Fla., area next fall, it was reported today.

But this wasn’t the first time the phrase “package deal” was used.  In an article entitled “Democratic Candidates Wary of Package Deal: Top Bourbon Nominees Trying to Shake Loose as Signs of Dissension Evident” published in the Los Angeles Times on August 22, 1946 the article stated:

Weevils of dissension seem to have crept into the Democratic “package deal” for candidates in the coming election.  It Was Bob Kenny who, in the late lamented primary wrapped Democratic candidates in a package deal, hailed it as a novel idea and put it out in California’s political show windows as a leader in campaign merchandising.

But as far back as 1887, the phrase “package deal” was in use.  When Nikola Tesla applied to the U.S. Patent Office for a single patent covering his entire electrical system, the U.S. Patent Office informed him in writing that he was to break his application into seven parts rather than submit the “package deal” he had submitted.  By April of 1888, Tesla had applied for five patents which were granted and by the end of that year, he had submitted another 18 patent applications.

However, Thomas Cook, the first tour operator is actually responsible for the first published “package deal.”  Thomas Cook was a strict Baptist and prominent member of the local temperance society.  In 1841, he arranged an excursion to a temperance meeting in Loughborough, taking advantage of the newly opened Midland railway line from Leicester.  He advertised a “package deal” where, for one shilling (5p), his customers got their rail ticket and lunch on the train.

The concept proved to be such a popular one, that the Association for the Protection of Immigrants in Texas began offering a package deal to Europeans in 1846 that included as part of the package deal:

1,000 francs, passage and meals from Bremen, German to Castroville; transport of 300 pounds of luggage; a small log cabin; two oxen and yokes; two milk cows; twelve chickens and a rooster; a plow; and a “Mexican” wagon.  In return, the settled agreed to live on, and work, the land for a minimum of three years.

Were there package deals before this?  There have been package deals throughout history.  However, the phrase itself only came into vogue after Thomas Cook.

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