Ayesha Le Breton
January 29, 2024
As Season 3 of Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever came to a close, Devi Vishwakumar lamented her virginity. In response, frenemy Ben Gross swiftly scribbled in his notebook and tore off a corner of the page, offering her comfort with “one free boink.” The scene, perhaps without trying, humorously captures a phenomenon within the Indian American community: an obsession with coupons. For over 130 years, the small pieces of paper have promised discounts and deals to millions of Americans, but a specific group of loyal devotees stands out. Indian immigrants who arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s found comfort within Sunday newspaper inserts and circulars. Some even had plastic folders with dividers, each sleeve a home for disparate categories, such as cleaning supplies, food, and clothes. Clipping coupons became a ritual their children observed and absorbed, a tradition that persists in many forms to this day.