Man Buys 12,150 Pudding Cups, Earns Airline Miles for Life

August 15, 2011

Ever wondered how to take extreme couponing to the next level? Check out this really awesome story about a guy, a frequent flier promotion,  and a lot of pudding cups...

David Philips of Davis, CA spent $3,100 on individual pudding cups and earned himself more than 1.2 million frequent flier miles! How? Healthy Choice offered 500 frequent flier miles for every 10 Unversal Product Codes (bar codes) submitted by the end of the year. Even better? The offer was doubled through the end of month. A civil engineer, Philips looked at the math: entrees were only $2, cans of soup were $0.90 -- but it wasn't until Philips stumbled into a warehouse outlet store that he discovered individual pudding cups for $0.25 a piece, each outfitted with its own barcode -- can you say "jackpot"? 

Philips cleaned the grocery outlet out of their pudding cups, and proceeded to clean out every single chain from Fresno to Davis -  including asking his local supermarket to order an additional 60 cases of pudding! All in all, Philips collected 12,150 indiviudal pudding cups and barcodes, filling his garage and living room with cases and cases of pudding. 

But there's a problem: the deadline for double miles was fast approaching, and Philips had to rip all of the barcodes off all 12,150 cups and mail them to Healthy Choice. So what did he do? He donated almost the entire lot to the Salvation Army in exchange for help removing the barcodes! The charity happily agreed, having never received such a large donation from a single person, and Philips mailed in his barcodes. 

The reimbursement envelopes from Healthy Choice started pouring in -- 2,506 certificates in all, each good for 500 miles, totaling 1,253,000 miles. Under the terms and conditions of the promotion, Philips could transfer the miles to any airline account, so he split 216,000 evenly between Delta, United and Northwest airlines and kept the rest - all 1,037,000 - in his American Airlines account. By earning more than 1,000,000 frequent flier miles, Philips earned AAdvantage Gold status for life, with all of its crazy perks, including more bonus miles for every trip.

So by spending $3,150 on pudding, Philips earned enough miles for 31 round-trip tickets to Europe (or 42 trips to Hawai'i, 21 to Australia or 50 anywhere in the US), which breaks down to about $100 per ticket -- awesome deal right? It gets better - because Philips donated the pudding, he can write-off a little more than $800, bringing the cost down to $75 per roundtrip ticket to Europe. Hell-oo Riviera!

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Peg's picture

I don't think this is an actual news story; this is the plot of the film 'Punchdrunk Love' starring Adam Sandler.

Matt's picture

Au contraire. Punch-Drunk Love took its inspiration from this story in real life. Happened about 10 years ago.

Anonymous's picture

that part of punch drunk love is based on the above true story as i understand it

Lynn Hutton's picture

Having been an avid couponer since 1964 I can certainly believe this story. It is possible to achieve such great results if you are savvy in the field of couponing which I consider myself to be. Whenever this occurred judos to David Phillips for his innovation and perseverance in pursuing his quest so doggedly. And great he donated the food to the Salvation Army and even increased his coffers by doing so. You go guy!