David Phillips (entrepreneur)
David Phillips (born 1964), also called The Pudding Guy, is an American civil engineer best known for accumulating many frequent flyer miles by taking advantage of a promotion by Healthy Choice Foods in 1999.
Phillips, who teaches at the University of California, Davis, calculated while grocery shopping that the value of a mail-in promotion for frequent flyer points exceeded the cost of the entree on which it is offered. In May 1999, Phillips received 1,253,000 frequent flyer miles.
Phillips calculated that the return on a mail-in food promotion outweighed the price of the Healthy Choice frozen entrees. He later discovered the same promotion also included individual pudding packages at 25 cents apiece. He subsequently visited ten grocery stores in the Sacramento area, buying every case of pudding available, totaling 12,150 individual servings of pudding, for $3,140. In order to divert attention, he claimed he was stocking up for Y2K. The details of the promotion included a bonus if the packages were mailed during the month of May 1999; Phillips, unable to remove all the UPCs himself in such a short time, recruited members of the Salvation Army to help peel the UPCs off the puddings in exchange for the donation of the pudding.
Phillips submitted proof of mailing the certificates and Healthy Choice Foods awarded him 1,253,000 AAdvantage miles. Because most of the pudding was donated to charity, Phillips also received an $815 tax deduction.
It is also speculated that neither ConAgra, the owners of the Healthy Choice brand, nor the airlines were seriously disadvantaged by the outcome. Since 2000, Phillips continues taking advantage of frequent flyer promotions, and is earning points five times faster than he is spending them.
Phillips' pudding story received international attention from news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The Times. The story was re-created in the 2002 Paul Thomas Anderson feature film Punch-Drunk Love.
- Holder, Kathleen (2000-02-04). "Engineer finds sweet travel deal in cups of pudding". Dateline UC Davis. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- Mikkelson, Barbara (2007-01-03). "Pudding on the Ritz". Snopes. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- Phillips, David. "The Proof is in the Pudding". FlyerTalk. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- "What would you do with over 12,000 cups of pudding?". Useless Information. Archived from the original on 2007-11-28. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- Pudding on the Ritz at Snopes.com.
- Sloane, Martin. "The Proof is in the Pudding!". Classic Columns. Archived from the original on 2005-03-08. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- "The Pudding Guy Q & A". Johnny Jet. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- Puig, Claudia (October 7, 2002). "The proof of 'Punch-Drunk Love' is in the pudding". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
- David Phillips on the Davis Wiki