AP
Krispy Kreme is giving star-shaped doughnuts to customers who mention the promotion.
updated 11/4/2008 4:38:33 PM ET 2008-11-04T21:38:33

Americans will pick a new leader for the country on Tuesday, and will be able to pick up some free coffee, ice cream and other goodies too.

Starbucks Corp. is offering a free cup of brewed coffee to anyone who asks on Tuesday, while Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. is giving away star-shaped doughnuts. Ice cream maker Ben and Jerry's is offering a free scoop as part of a celebration of the election.

Seattle-based Starbucks had originally planned to give away the "tall" brewed coffees to anyone who reported that they voted, saying in an ad: "If you care enough to vote, we care enough to give you a free cup of coffee."

The company broadened its offer to all customers to ensure it was in compliance with election law, spokeswoman Tara Darrow said Monday evening.

"We hope there is a record turnout on Tuesday and look forward to celebrating with our customers over a great cup of coffee," she said in a statement.

David Ammons, spokesman for the state elections division of Washington state, had said earlier that a promotion tied to whether people voted could be construed as rewarding someone for voting and could violate federal and state law. He said the state's attorney general's office contacted Starbucks about the issue on Monday.

Starbucks spokeswoman Lisa Passe said earlier Monday that the company would not disclose how much the promotion was costing or how many cups of coffee would be given away.

"We're confident that this is a smart investment for our brand and that it's simply the right thing to do at a time when every vote counts," she said in an e-mail.

By late afternoon Monday, more than 127,000 people had indicated they would take advantage of the coffee giveaway on the online networking site Facebook.

Companies shy away from endorsing
Ben and Jerry's, meanwhile, will be giving a free scoop to each customer at its shops from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

The company said in a statement it had planned to give free scoops only to people who voted but learned that certain laws may not allow it. Instead, it's celebrating the election with a "national party," said Walt Freese, Ben and Jerry's chief euphoria officer.

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"Even though we're giving scoops away to everyone, regardless of whether they vote or not, we hope they still take part in their civic duty," Freese said.

Krispy Kreme is giving star-shaped doughnuts with red, white and blue sprinkles to anyone who mentions the promotion, said spokeswoman Ayana Hernandez, but they won't be required to show an "I voted" sticker.

The company's 85 company-owned stores will be participating, along with an unknown number of its 145 franchisees, she said. Krispy Kreme estimates it'll give away about 200,000 of the doughnuts.

"It's just another way to give customers a free doughnut," Hernandez said. "It's not in any way tied to you have to be a member of a certain party, political party or anything like that."

There's also the possibility of free food from Chick-fil-A restaurants. The company says its local, independent operators — perhaps a couple hundred of them — will be doing voluntary giveaways of products like chicken strips, sandwiches and milkshakes on Tuesday. It's not clear if people will have to show proof that they voted to get the free food because the promotions are run at the local level, said Brenda Green, a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A Inc.

The companies, for the most part, have shied away from endorsing specific candidates.

But in the primaries, the founders of Vermont-based Ben & Jerry's endorsed Democrat Barack Obama and donated two "ObamaMobiles" to his campaign to drive around the state and give away scoops of "Cherries for Change" ice cream.

Red holiday cups reappear at Starbucks
Meanwhile, the red cups that symbolize the beginning of the holiday season — and holiday drinks — at Starbucks Corp. made their debut Tuesday.

The chain also stocked its refrigerated display cases with new lunch sandwiches in a bid to broaden its appeal to those looking for a bite to eat along with their Gingersnap Lattes.

The rollout of the holiday drinks is the start of the company's busiest time. At a Seattle meeting with reporters in September, Brad Stevens, vice president of customer relationship management, said the holiday period "is our top season."

Starbucks said all of its holiday drinks — the Gingersnap Latte, Peppermint Mocha Twist, Eggnog Latte and new Espresso Chocolate Truffle — are available nationwide.

The company's Christmas Blend drip coffee will be available after Thanksgiving. A new Thanksgiving Blend drip coffee is now on sale.

The sandwiches, also launched nationwide, include the Prosciutto e Ricotta sandwich, made with a ricotta and parmesan cheese spread and roasted red peppers, a Rosemary Ham & Swiss sandwich and a Goat Cheese and Roasted Mushroom sandwich, made with red pepper puree and a goat cheese spread.

Starbucks has been attempting to pull more customers into its stores in the afternoon. This summer, it offered $2 iced drinks after 2 p.m. to anyone who had a receipt from a morning purchase.

The company said its new Gold Card, which offers members 10 percent off most purchases, also appeared in stores Tuesday. Customers pay $25 to become members and receive the card.

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