By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
March 11, 2021
When should ice cream be treated like an alcoholic beverage, sold only to adults and only in licensed settings? When that ice cream contains alcohol like a malt beverage, a glass of wine or a serving of spiritous liquor. That’s the common-sense logic behind House Bill 11, an act that won approval from the state House Committee on Alcoholic Beverage Control Wednesday and is now headed to two more committees on its way to the House and likely to the Senate.
Introduced to the committee by Rep. Jamie Boles (R-Moore), the bill would define alcohol consumables as any “manufactured and packaged ice cream, ice pop, gum-based, or gelatin-based food product containing at least one-half of one percent (0.5%) alcohol by volume,” and would put the sale of these items under the control of ABC.
Legislative staff at Wednesday’s meeting said that, according to the bill, the consumables would be treated just like alcoholic drinks, with those infused with beer or wine sold where beer and wine are available, and those containing liquor reserved for ABC stores. The products would also be taxed as are alcoholic drinks.
Boles said lawmakers had heard from concerned citizens who reported seeing ice creams with up to 7 percent alcohol by volume and gelatin shots with up to 8 percent. Internet ads tout spiked ice pops that have a whopping 15 percent.
Before they voted to move the bill along, the committee heard from Tim Kent, executive director of the NC Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, and the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, both of whom support the measure.
“Most brands and flavors of alcohol-infused ice cream carry just enough alcohol to give consumers a taste of their favorite beverage without actually getting them drunk. But this isn’t the case with all food-based products,” Creech explained, citing several food-focused websites, one of which claimed that “Tipsy Scoop is saturated with just enough liquor to get you ‘nice and buzzed.’” The ad said one serving is equivalent to drinking a lite beer and “if you add the scoops up, you’ll probably have trouble counting after your fourth or fifth serving.”
Another company, Buzzbar, offers popsicle-style treats in flavors including Vanilla Daze (vanilla ice cream and cognac), Bourbon St. Chocolate (chocolate ice cream and whiskey) and Citrus Berry Drop (raspberry and lemon sorbet and vodka).
Creech cited one case where a mother says her children were given an alcohol-infused treat which made them ill and led to an emergency room visit.
“Admittedly, none of this is widespread but it does pose the question: Who is liable if this kind of ice cream results in some kind of tragic situation?” he posited. “The question of alcohol-infused ice cream is largely unaddressed in our state statutes, and it needs to be addressed by the ABC Commission.”
Wednesday’s vote sends the measure to the House Judiciary #2 Committee. If approved there it will be taken up by the body’s Finance Committee. Boles said a similar bill passed the House unanimously last session.
The following is Rev. Creech’s full speech before the House ABC Committee:
Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee,
My name is Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
There are not many occasions that I get to stand before this body and recommend a measure related to alcohol. I have such an opportunity today and relish in the moment. I want to thank the sponsors of this bill for putting it before you.
I promise to be brief, but I only wish to share a few things which make it abundantly clear that something like alcohol-infused ice-cream does need regulation.
According to Foodbeast.com, most of the brands and flavors of alcohol-infused ice cream “carry just a sufficient amount of alcohol to give consumers a taste of their favorite beverage without actually getting them drunk.” But this isn’t the case for all such products. Foodbeast.com says that “Tipsy Scoop” is saturated with just enough liquor “to get you nice and buzzed…one serving is the equivalent of drinking a light beer,” and if “you add the scoops up, you’ll probably have trouble counting after your fourth or fifth serving.”
In an article written by Sammy Mintzer for SpoonUniversity.com titled, Where You Can Get Drunk Off of Ice Cream, Mintzer advocates that there isn’t a better way “to mask the taste of alcohol than to pair it with delicious ice cream.” Mintzer’s piece introduces the many brands of alcoholic ice cream.
There is “BuzzBar Ice Cream.” Just the name reflects its ultimate end. “The Ice Cream Bar,” writes Mintzer, “specializes in their ‘one pint, 3 shots’ liquor ice cream, as well as craft beer ice cream.” There are pint flavors, including “the White Russian, Brandy Alexander Chip, Mojito Sorbet, and Bourbon Butter Pecan.” Each pint, she says, has “around 8.3%” alcohol by volume. Then there is SnoBar, “which offers frozen cocktail ice cream and ice pops with a full cocktail in every serving.”
There is one case mentioned on InjuryClaimCoach.com where a mother says that her children were inadvertently served alcohol-infused ice-cream, which made them very ill and precipitated a visit to the emergency room. However, the children were fine. There have also been claims about the way a particular beer-flavored ice cream could encourage children and adolescents to drink.
Admittedly none of this is wide-spread, but it does pose the question: Who is liable if this kind of ice-cream results in some tragic situation? The question of alcohol-infused ice cream is largely unaddressed in our state statutes, and it needs to be addressed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
The Christian Action League commends the bill to you.