As Russia uses ice cream to beat COVID-19, America has devolved into a series of meaningless court battles, primarily over what vanilla really is.
In the midst of everything else, ice cream seems to be having its day in the sun, with two rather important headlines heaped onto our cones over the last week. First, it seems that being protected from COVID-19 isn’t tempting enough for the average Muscovite, as Russian health officials have decided that condescension is the easiest way to herd immunity, promising a free ice cream with every vaccination.
As Bloomberg has reported, Moscow is trailing cities like London and New York in the number of people vaccinated, with only 38% Russians confident about getting the shot. Russia, of course, has devised and distributed its own vaccine, the spectacularly named ‘Sputnik V’. Russia is hoping to raise the percentage of vaccinated citizens to 60% in the next six months. For those playing at home, that’s around 72,967,231 people. That’s a lot of ice cream.
Over in the United States, the citizens of that country have also reduced themselves to stereotype, as no less than a hundred class-action lawsuits have entered courts over the country to ask the same question: Can you label something vanilla if it doesn’t have vanilla beans in it?
Sensationally, the lawsuits date back to 2019, when a lawyer named Spencer Sheehan looked at a can of A&W Root Beer. On the side, it proclaimed that it was made with aged vanilla. He decided that was a lie, and started legal action against Keurig Dr Pepper Inc, which owns the brand.
“I looked at it and said, ‘Yeah, I don’t think it’s correct, or completely truthful,’ ’’ said Mr Sheehan.
As The Wall Street Journal noted, “On one side are plaintiffs’ lawyers, like Mr Sheehan, who argue in lawsuits that food manufacturers are duping consumers by implying products are made with vanilla when they contain at most a trace of the plant. On the other are companies— McDonald’s, Wegmans Food Markets Inc., Trader Joe’s and Chobani LLC among them—that argue consumers don’t expect to find real vanilla in their vanilla soy milk or vanilla Greek yogurt (sic) as long as it tastes like vanilla.”
On the other, a spokesperson from Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. said the suit’s “claims have no merit and its products are truthfully marketed and labelled.”
The suit is ongoing.
Should we be surprised, fair reader? Absolutely not. America is, of course, the land of the spurious lawsuit against a conglomerate, and the gleeful payday beyond it. Famously, it also gave us a legal ruling on what constitutes substitute butter.
Once upon a time recently, a fellow named Jan Polanik had a problem with Dunkin’ Donuts. It seems that they were giving him margarine in lieu of butter. This clearly should not stand, so he decided to call the lawyers. He won. The crimes that Mr Polanik endured were him being served a substitute condiment on his bagels from 2012 to 2016. Move over, Mandela.
Thomas G Shapiro, a lawyer who represented Polanik, said it was unclear what each of the restaurants used in lieu of butter, but one of the stores had “a large tub that looked a lot like a tub of Country Crock, a very inexpensive spread that is sold in grocery stores.”
Restoring the public assumption of lawyers everywhere, Shapiro commented that “the main thrust of the case, really, is to get the stores, and hopefully Dunkin’ Donuts generally, to change that practice and not deceive people.”
Interestingly, as part of the settlement, up to 1,400 people may claim up to three free buttered muffins, bagels or other baked goods from the chain’s 23 locations in the state of Massachusetts.
Maybe that’s what the ice cream case needs. Free ice cream, freely distributed to the people; minus a pointy caveat.