I've never smoked, but whenever visiting a bar or restaurant if there were books or matches available I'd slip one or two in my pocket. At its peak, I had a biscuit tin overflowing with different matchbooks, which we'd use to persuade our old stove into life or light candles (Liz likes candles almost as mush as she likes fairy lights). Every time you had to rummage in there for a new matchbook you'd be hit by a wave of reminders of all these places you'd been to. Often, you'd be taken back to a particular evening or trip you'd long forgotten about, the way you do when you smell a particular scent for the first time in years.
Since the smoking ban - before it actually - pubs and restaurants have stopped doing branded matchbooks - there's no need. And so my stock has dwindled, and now the biscuit tin is empty.
Last night BLTP and I had a fine meal in The Duke, and they still had a big bowl full of branded matchbooks. I'd like to think this is because they see the value in this as a branding exercise that ties people to the pub a little closer, rather than that they ordered a job lot of them and forgot the smoking ban was coming in. It would be lovely if more places still did the same.