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The February 14, 2000 issue of People magazine includes a story titled "Some Sweet Deal: A chocolate pudding mother lode turns the Phillips family into frequent fliers for life." (page 108)
Jayne Clark wrote the USA Today story "Mileage Maniacs Say the Real Fun is in the Game".  This article follows up on Phillips' frequent flier mileage.  It seems that he was able to rack up another million miles in a promotion called Latin Pass.  (May 19, 2000, Section D, page 2)

The Time magazine article "The Pudding Prince of Frequent Flyer Miles" discusses how Phillips took advantage of both the Healthy Choice and Latin Pass offers.  (March 27, 2000, Volume 155, Issue 12, page 15.) 

What would you do with over 12,000 cups of pudding?

Most people have a junk drawer, but I'm proud to say that I have a junk closet.  The only time it's ever cleaned out is when I move.  Since that doesn't happen too often, you can imagine the mess in there.  This closet just happens to be the place where I store all of those things that I have purchased, but never found a use for.  These were deals that just seemed to good to be true when I first came across them.

A Davis, California civil engineer named David Phillips found himself in a similar boat in May of 1999.  While cruising the aisles of his local supermarket one day, a promotion for Healthy Choice foods caught his eye.    The deal was quite simple: For every ten Universal Price Codes that were sent in to the company, the customer would receive 500 frequent flyer miles.  And, if the UPC codes were mailed out by May 31, the value of the labels would be doubled. 

Phillips did some quick math in his head and was sure that he had stumbled across a deal that was too hard to resist.  He had been considering taking his family to Europe that summer, so why not eat their way there? 

Clearly, the cheaper he could get the Healthy Choice products, the lower the cost of the family's vacation.  His first discovery was cans of Healthy Choice soup at about ninety cents each.  He loaded his cart with the cans and proceeded to the checkout. 

His next step was to drive over to the local Grocery Store Outlet, a chain of warehouse-style supermarkets that specialize in overstock and discontinued merchandise.  The store was selling Healthy Choice chocolate pudding at twenty-five cents apiece.  And, to top that off, each container had its own UPC code.  He quickly purchased the store's entire inventory. 

Having hit the mother lode, David then continued on to the remaining ten Grocery Store Outlet stores in his area.  When they all ran out of pudding, David requested that the store manager bring in an additional sixty cases.  His final take was 12,150 containers of pudding.  Do a little bit of math and you will quickly realize that he was eligible for 1,215,000 frequent flyer miles!

Now, can you imagine what your neighbors would think if you carried over 12,000 containers of pudding into your home.  First, they would probably conclude that you were either crazy or perverted.  Then they would think up all kinds of strange uses for the pudding.  Could they be using it for pudding wrestling?  Pudding baths?  Could they actually be eating it?  David's answer was perfect: They were stocking up for Y2K. 

But, there was one hitch.  The May 31st deadline was quickly approaching.  His family could not peel the labels and fill out the required reimbursement forms fast enough.

What to do?  What to do?

David had the perfect answer.  He donated the remaining pudding to local food banks and the Salvation Army.  In exchange, their volunteers would peel off all of the UPC codes and give them back to him.

Once all of the coupons were ready to go, they were mailed off to Healthy Choice.  David wasn't sure that the company would honor the deal, and when they didn't send him the airline miles in a reasonable amount of time, he began to get nervous.  He called the company and they claimed that they had never received the package.  Luckily, David had sent the package by registered mail and had photographs to prove his purchases.  Shortly thereafter, the company mailed him his certificates.

In the end, David and his family collected 1, 253,000 miles from his puddings and soups.   He split 216,000 of the miles among Delta, United, and Northwest airlines.   The remaining 1,037,000 miles were posted to his American Airlines account.  And since he topped the million mile mark, he automatically became a lifelong member of American Airlines AAdvantage Gold club.   David now has lifetime access to a priority reservation number, priority boarding, and additional perks. 

Healthy Choice's cost for David's travel bonanza is estimated to be around two cents per mile or a little over $25,000.  David's cost, however, was only $3,140. 

I guess that sometimes deals that sound too good to be true can actually be true!

Useless?  Useful?  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

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