Why One Customer is Trying to Sue Cold Stone Over Pistachio Ice Cream

An ongoing case against Cold Stone Creamery and its parent company has been approved to go to a jury trial, presenting complicated questions about consumer expectations.

Long Island Ice Cream

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What if you order a particular flavor of ice cream, only to find that the ice cream does not contain that flavor ingredient at all? Well, in the case of one Long Island customer – she took it to court.

Filed Suit Against Ice Cream Maker

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Jenna Marie Duncan, a resident of the Long Island town of Farmingdale, has filed a class-action lawsuit against ice cream parlor chain Cold Stone Creamery and its parent company Kahala Franchising over claims of deceptive advertising.

Back to 2022

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The lawsuit came about after Duncan purchased some pistachio ice cream from a Cold Stone store in Levittown, New York back in 2022.

Reasonable Expectations

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According to court documents the disgruntled customer claimed that she “reasonably believed that the pistachio ice cream she purchased from defendant [Cold Stone Creamery] contained pistachio.”

No Pistachio Nuts Included

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However, upon opening the ice cream she realized that the product did not contain any visible pistachio nuts. After navigating to the official company website, she discovered that the ice cream did not contain any pistachio nuts at all. 

Artificial Flavoring Instead

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Instead, the product ingredient list included “pistachio flavoring” that was made from water, ethanol, propylene glycol, natural and artificial flavoring, rather than any natural pistachio extract.

A Business Law Violation?

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Duncan is claiming that the company has violated New York’s General Business Laws by falsely promoting artificial flavorings as authentic ingredients. In August 2023 she filed suit in the US District Court Eastern District of New York.

Deceiving Customers

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The plaintiff claimed that Cold Stone and Kahala Franchising are deceiving customers by selling flavors that “do not contain their represented ingredients.”

She Wouldn’t Have Purchased It

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She used herself as the example, claiming in the court documents that she “would not have purchased [the pistachio ice cream], or would have paid significantly less for it,” had she known that it did not contain the ingredient. She believes many customers would feel the same.

“We Expect Pistachios”

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“When consumers purchase pistachio ice cream, they expect pistachios, not a concoction of processed ingredients,” the lawsuit added.

Other Flavors Implicated

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Her lawsuit is not just focused on Cold Stone’s pistachio flavor, but also mango, coconut, orange, mint, and butter pecan, as well as orange sorbet. She claims that none of these flavors actually contain the advertised ingredient. 

Passed the Latest Phase

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Now, the U.S. District Court Judge Gary R. Brown has given the case the go-ahead to continue forward with a court jury, ruling that Duncan’s claims of deceptive practices “are plausible on their face.”

“A Deceptively Complex Question”

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The latest ruling describes the suit as raising “a deceptively complex question about the reasonable expectations of plaintiff and like-minded ice cream aficionados.”

A Bitter Aftertaste

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“Should consumers ordering pistachio ice cream at one of the defendant’s establishments expect that that product will contain actual pistachios?” Brown wrote. “And if the answer is no, should that leave them with a bitter aftertaste?”

Going to Jury

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Duncan’s case will be put forward to the jury, and if they agree with her claims it could result in a significant fine or settlement from Kahala Franchising. Former Cold Stone Creamery customers in New York could be eligible for as much as $50 in compensation.

Bad Look for Premium Brand

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It’s a bad look for Arizona-based Cold Stone Creamery, which is regarded as a “premium” ice cream brand and has been operating in the US since the late 1980s. 

Comparison to Other Companies

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The lawsuit compared the brand’s “deceptive” labels to other premium ice cream brands like Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s, which both include real pistachios in their pistachio-flavored ice cream products. 

Not All Flavors

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It should be noted that artificial, processed flavorings are not used to mimic flavors in all Cold Stone products. Flavors like strawberry, chocolate, and banana do contain the actual ingredients.

No Comment

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So far attorneys representing Kahala Franchising on the case have declined to comment on the case during pending litigation. 

Attempts to Dismiss the Case

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Court documents show that Kahala has previously attempted to have the case dismissed, on the grounds that their business practices are not deceptive as all ingredients are listed on the official website.

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The postWhy One Customer is Trying to Sue Cold Stone Over Pistachio Ice Cream first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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