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, enough for thirty-one round trips from his home in California to Europe.
Phillips calculated that the return on a mail-in food promotion outweighed the price of he 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 UPC codes himself in such a short time, recruited members of the Salvation Army to help peel the UPC codes off the puddings in exchange for the donation of the pudding.
Healthy Choice Foods did not initially respond by the May deadline. After being contacted they later claimed to have sent a form letter stating they had no record of the order. Only after Phillips later submitted proof of mailing the certificates did Healthy Choice Foods award Phillips 1,253,000 AAdvantage miles. Because most of the pudding was donated to charity, Phillips also received a $815 tax deduction.
It is also speculated that neither Healthy Choice Foods 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 incurred 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.