Food & Wine reports that as a result of a class action lawsuit filed in 2020, a New York judge "has preliminarily approved a settlement that would require A&W and Keurig Dr Pepper to give 'close to a full refund of the premium price' to any customer who purchased A&W Root Beer or Cream Soda during the past seven years."
The reason: The lawsuit claimed that the soft drink company inaccurately claimed on their cans that the soda was “Made With Aged Vanilla," while, more accurately, A&W’s root beer and cream soda got its flavor from 'an artificial, synthetic ingredient' called ethyl vanillin."
According to the story, "The settlement requires the defendants — A&W and Keurig Dr Pepper — to pay out $15 million worth of claims to those customers, who are now part of the Settlement Class. Each customer is entitled to a minimum of $5.50 and can receive up to $25 if they provide proof of their soda purchases … According to OpenClassActions.com, anyone who purchased either A&W Root Beer (including the Regular, Diet, and Zero Sugar versions) or A&W Cream Soda (including the Regular, Diet, and Zero Sugar versions) that was labeled with the 'Made With Aged Vanilla' wording between February 7, 2016 and June 2, 2023 is eligible for the settlement."
Food & Wine noted that "neither A&W Root Beer nor Keurig Dr Pepper have admitted to mislabeling their products, nor to misleading any customers. According to ClassAction.org, the companies agreed to the settlement 'to avoid further expense, inconvenience, and interference with ongoing business operations, and to dispose of burdensome litigation.' But, instructively, the story points out that "as of this writing, none of A&W’s root beers or cream sodas are marked 'Made With Aged Vanilla'."
- KC's View:
I think there ought to be legislation saying that you cannot simultaneously write a settlement check and not accept responsibility. Nobody believes it anyway, and it seems entirely disingenuous.
I'm glad that this is playing out the way it has. Clearly, there wasn't a lot of aged vanilla in that soda, and when companies make claims they cannot support, they ought to be punished.