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

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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.

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Women's Correctional Community Center inmate Lilian Hussein checks on ti leaves she planted as part of the prison's farming and gardening program in Kailua, Hawaii. The green ti leaves are often used to wrap food or weave into leis. Jennifer Sinco Kelleher/AP hide caption

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April 20: Soldiers from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Regiment, also called "The Old Guard," carry U.S. Army Corporal Justin Ross' flag-draped casket during his burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Ross, 22, of Green Bay, Wis., died March 26 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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