BROOKLYN, NY — Two dessert lovers are taking Turkey Hill Dairy to task over its vanilla ice cream in a lawsuit that claims the flavor just isn’t vanilla enough. It’s not that Turkey Hill’s vanilla-branded ice creams aren’t any less tasty than strawberry, caramel or coffee, plaintiffs argue.
The big problem with Turkey’s vanilla, according to the lawsuit: It’s not really vanilla.
Not that vanilla, anyway, which prompted a class-action lawsuit filed by Russell Kane in Brooklyn Supreme Court. The suit, filed Wednesday, seeks $5 million in damages from Turkey Hill, the Pennsylvania-based ice cream company whose product is sold nationwide, over claims of false advertisement.
“The representations of the Products are misleading because they misrepresent the exclusive flavor source, the amount of vanilla, the percentage of vanilla compared to the overall flavor component,” reads the complaint.
Turkey Hill did not immediately respond to Patch’s request for comment.
The lawsuit consists of more than 25 pages of an impassioned breakdown of the history of vanilla ice cream and specific examples where Turkey Hill commits “food fraud,” a non-official term that refers to the company’s alleged deception toward customers over the amount of vanilla included in its products.
The rhetoric within the lawsuit is the type of passion you’d more expect of chocolate lovers.
Here are some of the tasty morsels the lawsuit includes about vanilla ice cream:
“Ice cream is a year round treat enjoyed by 96% of Americans.””The reason for vanilla’s staying power is ‘not only because it is creamy and delicious, but also because of its ability to enhance so many other desserts and treats.'””By some estimates, approximately two-thirds of ‘all ice cream eaten is either vanilla
or vanilla with something stirred into it, like chocolate chips.'”
And our personal favorite:
“Thomas Jefferson thought his first American recipe for vanilla ice cream was so valuable that he entrusted the Free Masons to conceal it within clues and puzzles.”
There are eight types of relevant Turkey Hill ice cream products included in the lawsuit: All Natural Ice Cream, Premium Ice Cream, Light Ice Cream, No Sugar Added Ice Cream, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Sunday Cones and Individual Selections.
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Turkey Hill was founded more than 85 years ago in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The company however, didn’t start making ice cream until 1980, quickly becoming a popular product locally before taking off on a national scale during the following decades, according to the company.
In one subsection, the lawsuit claims Turkey Hill uses purposefully misleading front labels to mask missing ingredients, and then adds other non-vanilla flavors to the back label, where customers are less likely to look.
“It is the equivalent of the magician who turns his pockets and top hat inside out so as to convey to the audience, ‘nothing to see here.'”
The lawsuit also draws an emphasis to Turkey Hill’s use of the term”Natural Flavors.” Claiming that the company’s use of the two words does not refer to standardized vanilla-vanillin ingredients, and that “Vanilla, Natural Flavors” refers to vanilla with other natural flavors in it.