Tribune: Another year, another food article

It’s tax time again, which means pressing pause on Spidell’s podcasts and turning things over to the Tax Season Tribune. And what does our Tribune staff love more than writing about food? Not much! In past years, we’ve covered whether a burrito is a sandwich, how long it takes to eat 30,000 Big Macs, and ordering pizza from Domino’s (that last one is sprinkled with plenty of puns).

First up this year is a lawsuit that made news late last year, where a food manufacturer is accused of selling mozzarella sticks that don’t actually contain any mozzarella.1 You can’t make this stuff up — or you can, apparently, if you use cheddar cheese instead.

That’s exactly what plaintiff Amy Joseph has accused Inventure Foods, Inc. of doing with its “TGI Fridays Mozzarella Sticks.” The ingredients listed on the packaging include cheddar cheese, but there’s no mention of mozzarella.

In a court ruling,2 U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr., wrote, “Defendants argue that [the product] bears no resemblance to the hot appetizer mozzarella cheese sticks and therefore, does not necessarily contain mozzarella cheese.”

Dow continued, “[A]nother reasonable interpretation is that a product labelled “Mozzarella Stick Snacks” with an image of mozzarella sticks would bear some resemblance to mozzarella sticks, which presumably contain some mozzarella cheese.”

Inventure Foods has sold products under the TGI Fridays name for more than 20 years and the lawsuit names both companies, but Dow’s December ruling ordered the restaurant chain be dropped from the lawsuit before it proceeds as a class action. What a happy hour for TGIF!


2 Joseph v. TGI Friday’s, Inc., and Inventure Foods, Inc. (November 28, 2022) U.S. Dist. Ct., Northern Dist. of Ill., Eastern Div., Case No. 21-cv-1340