U.S. soldiers receive refreshments, including doughnuts, from an American Red Cross clubmobile in London. Soldiers today still resent a Red Cross move to charge for doughnuts. Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption Library of Congress

Planet Money

The Cost Of Free Doughnuts: 70 Years Of Regret

When the Red Cross began charging soldiers for snacks during World War II, it learned a painful lesson in the economics of free stuff.

Listen Loading… 5:02
  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/156737801/156747538" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The names of Jeffrey Katz's family members are depicted on "stumbling stones" in Lembeck, Germany. His relatives owned a home on the property near the stones, before they were evicted in 1942. Jeffrey Katz/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jeffrey Katz/NPR

May 7, 1945: In Frankfurt, Germany, Allied commanders including British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Soviet Marshal Gregori Zhukov and others celebrate the German surrender. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption AFP/Getty Images

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor