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9 Catt. 3: In re Sinplicity

2012 May 16

CATTLEYA, J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. JEREMY, C.J., wrote a separate concurrence.

On a sunny Spring afternoon, we granted cartiorari to Sinplicity under Rule of Procedure 2-2 by making a sua sponte appearance at its truck. Sinplicity is a maker of hand-crafted ice creams and sorbets. I have been very open about my love of frozen treats, and the Chief Justice was willing to try Sinplicity’s desserts, since they were not cupcakes. See In re Dangerously Delicious Pies, 4 Catt. 4 (2011) (Jeremy, C.J.) (“[S]hould the case of any cupcake truck come before this Cart, I vow now, given my severe aversion to cupcakeries, to recuse myself.”) Thus with no obstacles in our way, we lined up for Sinplicity’s artisan creations.



Sinplicity asserts that its ice creams are “sinply” different. It explains that it “pasteurize[s] [its] own ice cream mixes from fresh local dairy products.” Everything is “cooked entirely in house,” and there are “no compounds or extracts” in the recipes (except for a little vanilla extract). The mixes are made in a gelato machine. This results in a product that’s a mix between gelato and ice cream: gelato’s flavor and texture with ice cream’s high fat content.

Speaking of the fat content, Sinplicity does not hide the fact that it’s selling a treat. It bills its frozen creations as “special occasion stuff” and “self-indulgence territory.” It tells the eater that “you don’t want to know” the nutritional information. For those that really do want to know, Sinplicty provides calorie counts. Averaging its most popular flavors, Sinplicity’s website says that one scoop of ice cream is 290 calories (150 from fat) and one scoop of sorbet is 120 calories (0 from fat).


Under our common law, a presumption arises that the Supreme Cart must affirm any “street food” that comes off a food truck. Street food is “the kind[] of food[] that can be cooked in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.” In re Eat Wonky (The Whoopie Pie Case), 2 Catt. 5 (2011). If a food truck’s offering constitutes street food, then we must affirm unless we can meet the burden to rebut the presumption. In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012).

Ice creams and sorbets are street food. Although they’re usually scooped (not cooked) in front of you, and although they may be eaten with a spoon, they can be eaten while standing up. Not every prong of the Eat Wonky test must be strictly met, as the test “is not intended to affirmatively define the entire class of ‘street food,’ but is rather intended only to be a multifactor test to guide and direct our analysis.” In re Hot People Food (The Hot People Dumplings Case), 6 Catt. 4 (2012). As further evidence that ice cream is true street food, we note that mobile food trucks in the District of Columbia currently operate according to a 35-year-old law intended for ice cream trucks. Thus, historically, ice cream has been sold and eaten on the street.

Because ice creams and sorbets are street food, we must affirm Sinplicity’s frozen treats unless we rebut the preumption of affirmance. We “sinply” cannot meet this burden.


In the name of justice, we Justices put our prepare-for-summer diets aside and ordered two scoops (one ice cream flavor, and one sorbet flavor) for $5. We chose (1) Cappuccino Crunch ice cream with Chocolate Covered Almonds and Amaretto and (2) Lemon-Ginger Sorbet with Spiced Jamaican Rum. These flavors are from Sinplicity’s classic, “always available” menu. Not all of Sinplicity’s flavors include alcohol, but a good many of them do (apparently alcohol softens the ice creams). Unexpectedly, we found that Sinplicity serves its frozen creations with a piece of biscotti.


Cappuccino Crunch Ice Cream & Lemon-Ginger Sorbet

Sinplicity’s Cappuccino Crunch ice cream was worth the calories and fat. Although I am not a coffee drinker, I enjoy coffee-based desserts. The espresso flavor was strong and addicting. The kick of amaretto was not shy and added a little bitterness. The result was a flavorful taste that was not overly sweet. The chocolate covered almonds provided a crunchy nibble to break up the softness. Texturally, the ice cream was thick and creamy. Even as I neared the bottom of the cup, the ice cream held up and did not melt into a messy puddle.

The Lemon-Ginger sorbet was excellent and came with less guilt for the waistline. Texturally, the sorbet was more creamy than icy. The ginger spice was added in perfectly. It was neither too strong nor overpowering in flavor against the lemon. The rum added a pleasing zing. The overall flavor was refreshing and worked well as a post-lunch palate cleanser.

The biscotti was a nice addition. It was plain—no fussy nuts or spices. However, it by no means lacked flavor. This was a case where simple was better. The biscotti had a very buttery taste and reminded me of shortbread. The texture was what one would expect from a twice-baked biscuit. It was hard and crunchy, and it required the use of my side teeth to bite into it. The crunchy biscotti made the experience of eating Sinplicity’s frozen creations even better.


Sinplicity was a real treat to eat under the sun on a warm afternoon. The flavors were thoughtfully developed and perfectly executed. I could practically taste the care that went into the making. I was happy to become a “Sinner” that day. I’m even happier that Sinplicity has a “Frequent Sinner” card (buy ten, and get one free). I’ll be back again when I deserve to enter “self-indulgence territory” for some “special occasion stuff.”


JEREMY, C.J., concurring.

I concur heartily in my sister’s cogent opinion. Sinplicity is indeed a tasty treat for a balmy D.C. day; sin has never been so sinfully delicious. I have but one question not answered at oral argument: Is “Cappuccino Crunch” (read: “Cap . . . n . . . Crunch”) a thinly veiled reference to that delightful childhood treat, Cap’n Crunch? If so, I approve, even despite my strong preference for Count Chocula and his bat-shaped marshmallows.

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