The doughnut franchise announced earlier this week that a COVID-19 vaccination card would be good for a free glazed doughnut through the end of the year.
'We all want to get COVID-19 behind us as fast as possible and we want to support everyone doing their part to make the country safe by getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to them,' Krispy Kreme said in a release.
But the announcement came with criticism, including from comedian Stephen Colbert, who couldn't help but mock how Krispy Kreme's well-intentioned offer could feed into America's obesity epidemic.
Krispy Kreme has been offering free doughnuts to people with COVID-19 vaccination cards, but not without some controversy
CEO Mike Tattersfield said he views the free glazed doughnut giveaway as 'generosity'
Previously, Krispy Kreme also gave free glazed doughnuts to healthcare workers
CEO Mike Tattersfield defended the company to Yahoo Finance on Friday.
'We're a sweet treat company, [and] if folks don't want to visit a doughnut shop, they don't have to,' Tattersfield said.
'[If] folks that want to get a vaccine, if they decide to combine a Krispy Kreme pickup [for] a doughnut, they can,' he continued. 'That's how we look at it.... generosity.'
There is no limit to how many times a customer can claim a free doughnut, and could score one a day for the rest of the year if they keep their vaccination card on hand.
Also, the brand promised to drop off free doughnuts for support workers and volunteers at vaccination sites across the US within the next few weeks.
Last year, Krispy Kreme also gave away a dozen glazed doughnuts to the country's healthcare workers when the pandemic first began to rage.
In response to criticism that individual franchisees could be hurt by all of the promotions, Tattersfield put the monetary onus on the corporation.
'The majority of the United States is a company-owned system, so we pick up the tab,' the CEO said.
'Our franchisees have been great partners with us and have benefited along the way as well,' Tattersfield added. As far as who picks up the tab to reconcile that — the corporate headquarters does.
Data for obesity rates tends to lag behind for a few years, but the National Center for Health Statistics reported a 42.4 percent obesity rate in the United States in 2017-18.
That includes 9.2 percent of people who were considered to be severely obese.
The obesity rate in the United States has been steadily rising over the years, with a rate of just 30.5 percent back in 1999-2000.
Some people on social media are echoing the criticism, while others are quick to make fun of the controversy.
'KrispyKreme offering free donuts with proof of vaccination further proves that our food system and our medical system are in bed together,' said Vitally Melani. 'It's one big cycle. Feed the population food that makes them sick, then make it seem like health has nothing to do with diet. Big profits.'
'Your heart surgeon will charge you $100,000 for the operation on your clogged aorta,' said another user.
'Calories don't count when it's for science,' Wendi Reichstein countered.
'Unbelievable that Krispy Kreme is forcing vaccinated people at gunpoint to eat a donut every day for the rest of 2021. Why is no one tweeting about this?,' said another user, poking fun of the entire controversy.