Yiddish for "little bit of junk," and originally used to refer to things like party favors, this word saw frequent use during the dot-com era as the term for the little freebies that dot-coms might send to would-be customers or journalists to try to evoke name recognition or favorable reviews. Chotchkes could range from the commonplace--ballpoint pens, magnifying glasses, and so on--to the bizarre; there was an interesting and amusing article in Salon Magazine about the various freebies they received from Internet businesses, most of whom were not still in business by the time the article was written.

If dot-coms had poured all the money they spent on chotchkes into showing a profit instead, the dot-com crash might possibly have been averted.

Tchotke is a Yiddish word now relatively common in English. It literally refers to a rope with knots in it, used as a memory aid for prayer. When used in English, however, a tchotke or chot'ke is a free gimmick given away by a company for advertising purposes. Small foam brains with a logo on the side are tchotke, as are keychains, Magic: the Gathering cards, keycaps from old IBM Keyboards, useless hard drive platters, and slinkies.

Dot coms were particularly famous for handing out actually valuable tchotke. Most of them are gone now, but my closet full of frisbees, beach balls, bobbleheads, and the Kahuna Akamai remains.

a_scar_fairy has a collapsible Guiness frisbee.

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