Butter or Margarine? Spawns Lawsuit

New York Times writer Daniel Victor reported earlier this months that, “If you order chicken, you expect chicken.

“If you order a coffee, you expect a coffee.

But if you order butter, is margarine or a vegetable spread an acceptable substitute?

It wasn’t to Jan Polanik, who sued 23 Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Massachusetts for serving him ‘margarine or a butter substitute’ instead of butter with his bagels between June 2012 and June 2016. He filed a pair of class-action lawsuits in March against franchise owners who are responsible for multiple stores. He paid 25 cents for butter and was not told a substitute was used, according to the suits.”

The Times article noted that, “Thomas G. Shapiro, a lawyer who represented Mr. Polanik, said it was unclear what each of the restaurants used in lieu of butter, but one of the stores had ‘a large tub that looked a lot like a tub of Country Crock, a very inexpensive spread that is sold in grocery stores.’

“‘The main thrust of the case, really, is to get the stores, and hopefully Dunkin’ Donuts generally, to change that practice and not deceive people,’ he said.”

Mr. Victor added that, “Dunkin’ Donuts said in a statement that it was aware of the lawsuit but did not address any companywide butter policies.

“‘The majority of Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Massachusetts carry both individual whipped butter packets and a butter-substitute vegetable spread,’ the company said in a statement.”

The article also pointed out that, “Take Wisconsin. It would be wise for you to not mess with Wisconsin’s butter.


“There, butter-specific laws crack down on would-be margarine hawkers. An unannounced margarine-for-butter swap at a restaurant is expressly forbidden, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and three months in prison for the first offense, and as much as $1,000 and a year in prison for subsequent offenses. Margarine cannot be served to students, patients or inmates in state facilities.”

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