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Krispy Kreme serves up 1.5M free donuts as part of COVID-19 vaccine push

·Associate Producer
·2-min read
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Krispy Kreme, one of a growing number of companies incentivizing the COVID-19 vaccine push by offering freebies to Americans, has given away nearly 2 million donuts as part of its campaign, the company announced on Tuesday.

Since the offer of one free glazed donut with a valid vaccination card began on March 22, the donut chain has given away over 1.5 million donuts to vaccinated Americans. 

And with this Friday marking National Donut Day, Krispy Kreme plans to up the ante. On June 4, Americans who have received at least one vaccination shot can get two free donuts by showing their card.

In a statement, Krispy Kreme said "if you’re helping us get past this pandemic by getting your COVID-19 vaccine, then THANK YOU and have a second doughnut on us."

Outside view of the new Krispy Kreme flagship store amid the coronavirus pandemic in Times Square, New York, September 15, 2020. - The 4,500 square-foot donut shop includes a glaze waterfall, a 24-hour street pick-up window, and a system that can make more than 4,500 donuts an hour. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Outside view of the new Krispy Kreme flagship store amid the coronavirus pandemic in Times Square, New York, September 15, 2020. - The 4,500 square-foot donut shop includes a glaze waterfall, a 24-hour street pick-up window, and a system that can make more than 4,500 donuts an hour. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Back when the company first offered the incentive in March, the initiative sparked backlash from health advocates concerned about how it might encourage obesity — an underlying condition that exacerbates the effects of COVID-19.

But CEO Mike Tattersfield rebuffed the critique, telling Yahoo Finance in an interview that if "folks that want to get a vaccine, if they decide to combine a Krispy Kreme pickup [for] a donut, they can. That's how we look at it.... generosity."

And despite that controversy, customers came in droves to claim their free snack, which also helped drive Krispy Kreme's foot traffic higher. 

Compared to 2019, weekly visits were up 16.1% during the week of March 22, up 29.8% during the week of March 29, according to analytics firm Placer.ai. That was up 38.6% during the week of April 5 — and helped build momentum to an 88.6% surge in visits the week of May 10th, coinciding with the company's "Graduation Dozen" campaign. 

"The timing of the surge is excellent ahead of an expected IPO with the brand hoping to ride the wave of reopening’s and the return of routines to continued 2021 success," Ethan Chernofsky, CMO of Placer.ai, told Yahoo Finance.

Since the launch of this incentive, others have followed suit to lend a hand to help push the COVID-19 vaccine, including fast food giants like McDonald's (MCD), Shake Shack (SHAK) and others like United Airlines (UAL), Lyft (LYFT), Uber (UBER) and OKCupid. 

Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

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