Vice - Inside the Intense, Insular World of AOL Disc Collecting < 5min

The discs came like a swarm of locusts, burrowing into post boxes and sliding through mail slots. They popped out of cereal boxes and appeared on meal trays during airline flights. They fell out of magazines and Happy Meals. They were stocked at the checkout counters of Best Buy, near the popcorn at Blockbuster, on bookshelves at Barnes & Noble. The ubiquity of AOL discs—those free marketing materials sent by America Online in the 90s to entice people to sign up for internet service—could be likened to world domination. ... But they were also annoying. If you didn't end up using your "50 Hours Free!," the discs would likely end up in the trash. A satirical newspaper in California, The Larely Beagle, once published a faux report about how there were so many unused AOL trials in landfills that it was contaminating the nation's drinking water. ... There's no record of how many different styles of AOL discs were distributed, but Jan Brant, AOL's former chief marketing officer, estimates that the number is in the thousands.