At one time or another, we’ve all daydreamed about scoring a limitless supply of something—whether it's in the form of sweet treats, caffeine, or perhaps gasoline to get us around. But some people have actually achieved this remarkable dream and have procured gifts that just keep on giving.
Check out some of these tales of people scoring free stuff—none of which stemmed from a corporate complaint.
In the 1930s, Ruth Wakefield was baking chocolate cookies for guests at her successful Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. When she ran out of baker's chocolate, she chipped away at bars of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate with an icepick and included them in what turned out to be the first-ever batch of chocolate chip cookies.
But Wakefield was actually deliberately creating a new type of cookie, telling the Boston Herald-American in 1974: “Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different. So I came up with the Toll House cookie.”
The cookies were beloved locally, and a Boston newspaper printed the recipe. Nestle’s sales got a boost right around the time Wakefield’s “Toll House Crunch Cookie” recipe became popular, and so the company approached her to make a deal. They would use the Toll House name and print the recipe on every package in exchange for a life-lasting stash of Nestle’s famous chocolate for Wakefield.
A “lifetime supply” in this case translates to about three years’ worth (only lasting until potty training becomes routine). Identical twin girls in Ohio were awarded with their own Pampers diapers-and-wipes trove from Procter & Gamble after news spread that they held hands when first presented to their mother, Sarah Thistlethwaite, in the delivery room. The rare “mono mono twins”—siblings that share the same amniotic sac and placenta—are named Jenna and Jillian, and the pair’s endearing entrance into the world in 2014 garnered nationwide attention. (It even served as fodder for a joke on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.”)
The Procter & Gamble-owned Pampers brand has seemingly dominated the lifetime supply handouts. In 2006, the company welcomed the birth of the 300 millionth American by presenting the newborn’s family with a lifetime supply of diapers and wipes, as well as donating $10,000 to the March of Dimes.
In 1997, Procter & Gamble announced it was providing Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey of Des Moines with a lifetime supply of Pampers for their septuplets: four boys and three girls. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that “babies usually stay in diapers for more than two years, with each child going through about 4500 diapers—or an estimated 31,500 for the McCaughey kids.”
3. ICE CREAM
A lifetime supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was the runner-up prize in a 1995 essay contest put on by the dessert moguls, called "Yo! I want to be CEO!" Ben & Jerry’s was seeking a new CEO after Ben Cohen stepped down, and three people, including three-year-old Taylor James Caldwell of Santa Clara, California, took home the second-place prize. (Nobody who submitted an essay scored the title of Ben & Jerry’s CEO; it was awarded to Robert Holland Jr., who was hired through a New York executive recruiting firm.)
Taylor was selected out of 22,000 contestants as one of the contest’s three runners-up, and he was promised 150 coupons annually, redeemable for free pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, as well as a card that can be used at any of their brick and mortar ice cream parlors. In 2010, the Woodlands Villager caught up with Caldwell, who said that the card had come in handy for others, too, as anyone he was with was privy to the free treat.
“Growing up, I used to play baseball and other team sports,” Caldwell said. “It was really nice, because after a game we’d all go have Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.”
In August 2015, six-year-old Brady Carpenter “got milk”—lots of it. During media day at the University of Michigan, the first-grader asked football coach Jim Harbaugh: “How much milk do I have to drink to be big enough to be quarterback?”
Harbaugh responded, “Drink as much milk as your little belly can hold.”
After footage of the encounter spread, Indiana-based milk producer Fairlife helped Brady on his quest—presenting him with a lifetime supply of milk and inviting his family to visit one of their dairy farms.
Anders Porter, spokesperson for Fairlife, tells mental_floss the boy’s prize comes in the form of custom coupons, complete with Brady’s photo and a barcode for grocery store scanning, that the family can redeem for free Fairlife milk at their local store.
“We went ahead and made the prize pretty open-ended,” says Porter. “It’s just up to the parents to reach out to us as soon as they run out of coupons, and we’ll keep giving them as long as we’re still making milk.”
Diehard fans have gotten inked plenty of times to express their adoration for a band or sports team—and taco-lovers are no different. When a Toronto resident tattooed “DLT 4 Life” over an image of a Doritos Locos Taco on the inside of his left arm in 2014, it garnered plenty of PR for the franchise. They rewarded the taco fan—who is referred to only as "Tyler" in press reports—with an endless supply of Doritos Locos Tacos.
Jamie Solimine, also a resident of Canada, caught Taco Bell’s attention with her electric orange hair. Because of her Doritos Locos Tacos-inspired dye job, the fast food chain awarded her a lifetime supply as well. The company calculated this as a taco per day for “life”—32 years, in Taco Bell terms—for her to feast on. Solimine presents an ID card at the counter to redeem her prize, and she says she’s not sick of it yet.
“I do love tacos,” she told mental_floss. “Not completely over them.”
6. TOILET PAPER
Of the more practical jackpots to win, a lifetime supply of toilet paper was the prize in a 2014 contest sponsored by Charmin that asked people to use the product to make a wedding dress. Frank Cazares, an Anaheim, California resident who holds a design degree, was a runner-up, and he was awarded a lifetime supply of Charmin toilet paper. (Besides a lifetime supply of toilet paper, first prize in the contest also receives $10,000.)
Cazares had only learned of the 2014 contest just two days before the deadline to submit photos of his creation, but he quickly climbed his way into the running.
“I would get home from work and stay up all night working on it,” Cazares told the Orange County Register. “I sent in the photos and got an email five minutes later that I was a finalist.”
He put that prize to use for 2015’s contest, for which he designed a functional dress made of the bathroom staple, supported by tape, glue, and thread. It took him 34 rolls and two weeks to fashion the outfit for the contest, which was hosted by Cheap Chic Weddings.
Alas, he did not win. The first prize of 2015’s contest went to Donna Pope Vincler, who, besides a lifetime supply of toilet paper and cash, also won the opportunity to see her dress produced with real fabric made by Kleinfeld Bridal.
One family in Oregon made some serious dough last year—monetary and edible.
When Portland restaurant owner Donna DeNicola scavenged the city’s extremely competitive housing market for a new place, Rob and Holly Marsh sold their 900-square-foot house to a buyer willing to really beef up the offer.
The Marsh family agreed to sell the house after DeNicola, owner of Italian restaurant DeNicola’s in southeast Portland, exceeded their asking price and threw in one pizza every month for the rest of their lives. The Marsh family told ABC News that they were especially swayed by the two free months of rent DeNicola added to her pitch, in addition to the pizza.
“I thought it was hilarious,” Holly Marsh told ABC News. “I’m a fan of unorthodox approaches to things, and that definitely stood out and got our attention.”
Pizzas at DeNicola’s cost around $20 on average.
“I felt like I was in a poker game,” DeNicola told KPTV. “I’m willing to do anything because I know this market is crazy.”
All images via iStock.