The kooky scoop-slingers at Ben & Jerry’s are rolling out a new type of ice cream that looks like a direct knock-off of Christina Tosi’s Cereal Milk soft serve. The product line also draws inspiration from a trio of big brand-name cereals, so this is essentially a nesting doll of pilfered sweets conceits. Dubbed Cereal Splashbacks, the new in-store-only ice cream is available in three flavors: Fruit Loot (in the vein of Fruit Loops), Frozen Flakes (an emulation of Frosted Flakes), and Cocoa Loco (mimicking Cocoa Puffs).
Christina Tosi did not invent “cereal milk” — people have been making that stuff by accident for as long as cereal has been on grocery shelves. But Christina Tosi did invent Cereal Milk, a refined version of the thing you liked as a kid. Tosi gave the world Cereal Milk soft serve, and deluxe Cereal Milk in bottles — both of which have been served at Milk Bar in New York for the last nine years, and they’re now available at its spinoffs in Vegas, D.C., and Toronto.
Milk Bar’s affiliated restaurant group, Momofuku, has an active trademark for Cereal Milk, which is defined as: “Non-nutritionally fortified, non-protein, and non-nutrient based frozen confections and frozen custards made with flavored dairy milk.” That product description could be applied to what Ben & Jerry’s is serving now. On its homepage, Ben & Jerry’s is even pitching this new product line as three “cereal milk ice cream flavors.” But the trademark for Cereal Splashback describes the product as simply: “Ice cream; frozen confectionery.”
Team Milk Bar declined to comment on this new rival product. But this is definitely not the first time a major food company has ripped an idea from Christina Tosi and her crew: As you may recall, a company called Bantam Bagels started peddling savory stuffed bagel holes a few years ago that were remarkably similar to Milk Bar’s signature Bagel Bombs. Momofuku emperor David Chang tweeted a dig at Bantam Bagels when he saw their Bagel Bomb knock-offs being sold at Starbucks, but his company did not pursue any legal action.
Stay tuned for any updates on the Cereal Milk Saga as they become available.