It’s really impossible to talk about how far subscription boxes have come without first noting how far the U.S. Postal Service has come. Way back in the Wild West, there was no rural mail delivery. So you either lived in an overcrowded city where you worked 18 hour days at the factory and most of your drinking water was mixed with someone else’s poop, or you had to hitch up your horse and travel for hours to get to the big city, where you’d hopefully have some mail waiting for you. And if you didn’t have any mail waiting for you, that would be super annoying.
Anyway, according to USPS, at some point it occurred to someone in the government that the vast majority of Americans — 65 percent at the time — did not live in cities, so maybe they should think about delivering mail to rural communities. In 1902, after a whole lot of arguing about cost and practicality, “rural free delivery” finally became a thing, and rural people no longer had to go into town to pick up their mail. With the new service came incentives to build roads and infrastructure, and life in America improved overall. Without these innovations, package delivery wouldn’t be possible, and you would never know the joys of receiving of a box full of housewares, makeup, or those health products you were too embarrassed to buy in person at Walgreens.