'Free Doughnut Day': Padding Our Waistlines -- and Investors' Wallets

Free donuts

Fans of free doughnuts have been circling June 7 on their calendar for some time, as Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts gear up for a day of doughy freebies.

Sure, it's called National Donut Day at Dunkin' Donuts and National Doughnuts Day at Krispy Kreme. But however you spell it, you still get a free sugary treat when you show up at participating stores. At Krispy Kreme, there are no strings attached. Walk in, pick a doughnut and go. Dunkin' Donuts requires you to buy a beverage. It's safe to say that both chains will be as crowded as IHOP is during National Pancake Day, when it serves up free short stacks.

Fans will no doubt hoist up their sticky rings in a show of success, like Gollum's "precious" from "Lord of the Rings."

Padding Waistlines -- and Wallets

Let's face it, people love doughnuts, even if they are unhealthy in nearly every incarnation. Krispy Kreme's signature original glazed packs 11 grams of fat -- a pittance compared with the New York Cheesecake variety at 21 grams. And that can't hold a candle to the 39 grams of fat tucked inside Dunkin's chocolate coconut cake donut.

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While all that fat may pad people's waistlines, it's also padding investors' wallets. Krispy Kreme stock soared 31 percent last week after blowout quarterly results. Revenue climbed 11 percent over the past year and adjusted earnings grew even faster. The chain has posted positive same-store sales for 18 consecutive quarters.

Dunkin' Donuts has also been a winning investment. The 10,500-unit chain went public at $19 a share less than two years ago, and the stock has gone on to more than double.

The chains are not giving away doughnuts because they need the business. They're doing it to honor a tradition they've been keeping since 1938, when Free Donut Day started. They also have plenty to gain by bringing in customers who may not normally frequent the stores.

Come for the Free Doughnut, Come Back for the Bacon Sandwich

Dunkin' has plenty of new things to show off. It just rolled out a new line of seasonal flavors featuring lemonade and key lime pie donuts; Krispy Kreme introduced its own key lime doughnut back in April.

However, the concoction that will truly turn heads is the new breakfast sandwich that Dunkin' Donuts introduced this week. A glazed doughnut is split in half like a bagel to make an egg and bacon sandwich. (There are already plenty of gourmet burger joints serving up hamburgers on doughnut rolls. What took the country's largest doughnut chain so long?) It may be easy to ridicule, but Dunkin' is surely hoping temptation will strike visitors once they get in the store.

Gollum was right all along. Those golden rings are precious.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.