The company announced on Monday that customers who show a valid vaccine card at a Krispy Kreme store can receive a free glazed doughnut every day for the rest of 2021 at participating locations. But critics say that the offer excludes those who don't want the vaccine. Others say that the promotion is incredibly bad for your health.
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"We'd like to show our sweet support to those who have received the COVID-19 Vaccine," the company posted on Instagram Monday. "Starting today, bring your COVID-19 Vaccine Card to a Krispy Kreme shop near you and receive 1 FREE Original Glazed doughnut! Haven't had a chance to get a Vaccine? This offer will run through the end of 2021."
"Every single person who goes out and gets that vaccine brings us that much closer to a post-COVID America, which we're really excited about," Dave Skena, chief marketing officer and global director of brand at Krispy Kreme, told NBC's Kristen Dahlgren on Weekend TODAY. "And so, if we can show our support with a little tasty treat, then that's what we want to do."
But not everyone was sweet on the giveaway idea, with some calling it discrimination against those who don't want the vaccine. One Twitter commenter wrote that Krispy Kreme was part of the "indoctrination of American citizens."
"I can’t believe people actually fall for this propaganda," another tweeted. "...amazing how many weak minded gullible ignorant people are walking around this planet right now... throw your life away...reprogram your DNA .. all for a card showing you cooperated.. and a donut."
Krispy Kreme addressed vaccine hesitancy, calling it "a highly personal decision" and is also offering a free doughnut and coffee to everyone on Mondays until May 24, regardless of whether they've gotten the shot.
But others were still concerned about the health effects of a doughnut a day as specified in the giveaway. One doctor pointed out that eating a doughnut a day could result in a 15-pound weight gain by the end of 2021.
"Hey @krispykreme, I love that you want to thank people for getting the #covid19 #vaccine!" tweeted Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. "Every incentive helps & free donuts may help move the needle. However, donuts are a treat that's not good for health if eaten every day."
Kate Bernyk wrote an op-ed article for NBC News and said the doughnut backlash is about fat-shaming and shaming people for their food choices and weight gain.
"I think for me, it wasn't about the doughnut," she said. I think that it's just another opportunity to pass judgment on someone's choices or the way someone looks."
Krispy Kreme is not the first company to offer promotions during the pandemic. A New Jersey gym owner is offering free memberships to people who don't get the vaccine. Others are offering those who are vaccinated discounted beer, popcorn or arcade tokens.
"Just last week on St. Patrick's Day, I was thinking about this, we gave a donut away to everyone in green," said Skena.
Dr. Ashish Jha, a physician and dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said that if a free doughnut leads to more people getting vaccinated, he's all for it.
"Pleased @krispykreme is offering up free daily donut for those who have been vaccinated If that sweetens the deal for you to get vaccinated, I'm all in," he tweeted. "And right now, I'd rather not hear about donuts and weight gain Pandemic, people. Pandemic."