Bloomberg Law
April 21, 2020, 3:45 PM

Most Popular Ice Cream’s Legal History Isn’t So Plain Vanilla

Julie Steinberg
Julie Steinberg

While vanilla has long ranked as Americans’ favorite ice cream flavor, the frozen treat has also sparked disagreements that date to the start of the country and continue into modern times.

The controversy isn’t about vanilla versus chocolate, the one heard around birthday parties and swimming pools. It’s about vanilla versus vanilla, a subject on which Thomas Jefferson and another founding father differed.

Jefferson’s quarrel over this issue wasn’t with Alexander Hamilton, his usual foe. Instead, he and Benjamin Franklin differed as to what makes the best vanilla ice cream: what should—and shouldn’t—be in it.

Jefferson and Franklin both were ...

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