How and why I did this
When I was a teenager, I loved Isiah Thomas. Before he was an awful basketball executive, he was a great basketball player, and I was a huge fan. I wrote him a letter asking for his autograph, and a few months later I got a "signed" glossy photo of Isiah doing a lay-up or whatever. I was stoked and probably cried. And even back then, getting something in the mail was super fun. It's still fun! I get snacks in the mail every other week and I love it.
As an adult, I don't write letters anymore. No one does. And so when anyone writes a company, they listen. It's attention-grabbing. It takes more time and effort to send than a tweet, an email, or a Snapchat of your privates. (Do not Snapchat companies photos of your privates.)
I wrote personalized letters to 26 different companies about why I genuinely liked their products on the off-chance a real person was going to read it. None of the letters identified me as a food & drink writer. These are the 15 companies that responded. It's worth reiterating -- if you're going to do this, you can't send companies form letters. Real people are going to read them! And then those real people are going to send you awesome free stuff, as you're about to see.