This article focuses on the Soviet government’s turn to positive incentives to play the state lottery in the late 1950s, after thirty years of coercing citizens to buy state lottery bonds under Stalin. Khrushchev discontinued the Stalinist bonds in April 1957 and, in their wake, introduced “cash-and-goods lotteries” featuring voluntary participation. The Khrushchev government identified a powerful positive incentive to buy tickets in the coveted consumer goods the lotteries offered as prizes. Citizens were no longer asked to sacrifice toward the state lottery, rather, they were encouraged to risk small sums toward potential consumer gain and the improvement of their living standards – a new way of conceptualizing Soviet citizens’ personal financial contributions to the state as the Soviet Union approached communist prosperity.
Gorbachev’s 1997 television ad for Pizza Hut, which opened its first restaurants in the Soviet Union in 1990 through a joint venture between parent company PepsiCo, Inc. and the Moscow city soviet, is an important part of his popular image in the West, reflecting the role that capitalist consumerism is often presumed to have played in the Soviet system’s collapse. Yet, as this article shows, such joint ventures were supposed to increase the Soviet Union’s role not as a consumer, but as a producer, by showcasing the benefits of international economic cooperation with it. Joint ventures won Gorbachev powerful allies, including the CEO of Pepsi, Donald H. Kendall, who advocated for removing American trade restrictions that stood in the way of the Soviet Union assuming a larger function in world trade. As Gorbachev’s economic reforms began to fail, however, the long line in front of Pizza Hut also came to symbolize communism’s failure to deliver prosperity. Gorbachev used the difficulties of foreign companies like Pizza Hut as proof of why the Soviet Union should be given Western aid, to no avail. Ultimately, the policy of joint ventures was a failure and Pizza Hut’s presence in the post-Soviet Russian market was short lived: it left during the 1998 ruble crisis only to return under Putin in the early 2000s, only to leave once again after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.