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Walmart Juneteenth Ice Cream, Trademark Controversy

In late May 2022, rumors began swirling of a flavor of ice cream available at Walmart called “Juneteenth” — setting off miscellaneous threads of discussion about whether it was real, whether Walmart had trademarked the term, and if they had lifted the idea from a Black-owned brand called Creamalicious.

Initial Posts About Walmart Juneteenth Ice Cream

On May 21 2022, Facebook and Twitter user Electris Jones shared an image of a carton of Walmart Juneteenth ice cream, writing:

Dear Walmart,

Ummm… k. Thanks I guess🥴

Edit: Modus Operandi. Capitalize off the culture. With all of the black owned brands why not promote their products. Give them room on the shelves. Give them production to expand. When we said Recognize our work. Thats what we meant!!

Nope. Were gonna throw some Pan African Colors on a container with some four finger hands, give it a flavor (remind them it’s swirled cause massa got a little blood equity in there too), instead of putting the history of Juneteenth on the carton write something that says nothing at all really under “our story” and charge $5.99 a carton.

Jones attached a photograph to the Facebook post quoted above and a tweet:

Although the Walmart Juneteenth ice cream story quickly went viral, nearly all iterations used the same watermarked images above. One May 23 2022, a tweet featured an image of Walmart’s Juneteenth ice cream alongside another flavor for Pride month:

A separate variation on Facebook seemed to include unique images, including one with the lid removed. It showed a brick red ice cream swirled with a very vivid yellow, and the poster wrote in part that a “trademark for Juneteenth has been submitted for bakery goods, ice cream and candles.”

Searches of Walmart’s website for “Great Value ice cream” and “Juneteenth ice cream” did not lead to any product pages. It was possible the product was real and not added, or real and removed thanks to the seemingly immediate backlash.

The latter theory had some very weak support in the comments of a thread on r/Walmart about the controversy. One comment from the late afternoon of May 23 2022 claimed:

Guess that was why it was all on a cart in the freezer saying recall when I got in last night.

After that comment appeared, we double-checked r/walmart for any supporting information and located a May 20 2022 image that appeared to show Walmart Juneteenth ice cream in the context of being stocked:

Yall Have Gone too Far Corporate from walmart

Did Walmart Trademark Juneteenth Ice Cream?

In the widely shared images by Electris Jones, many people observed a trademark symbol (™) next to the word “Juneteenth.”

A popular post to Reddit’s r/BlackPeopleTwitter emphasized the claim in the title, “[Walmart] actually trademarked Juneteenth™”:

They actually trademarked Juneteenth™️ from BlackPeopleTwitter

On May 22 2022, trademark attorney Ticora Davis shared a series of observations about Walmart’s purported attempt to trademark Juneteenth from both a legal and cultural perspective to Facebook and Instagram:

In a separate Instagram reel, Davis explained again that a trademark application had been filed by Balchem. She added that that application had been blocked by another company.

It was unclear if Balchem was involved with Walmart’s Great Value ice cream, but Davis determined that Balchem’s Juneteenth trademark application had not resulted in Walmart trademarking “Juneteenth”:

Did Walmart’s Juneteenth Ice Cream Rip Off Black-Owned Brand Creamalicious?

In addition to negative sentiment about the trademark symbol on the purported packaging, commenters further claimed that the ice cream was a blatant theft of an identical flavor from the black-owned brand Creamalicious.

One Facebook updated claimed:

I went down the rabbit hole…because I needed to figure out why Walmart chose to put red velvet cake (made by Waldorf Astoria…maybe the cook was black 🤷🏽‍♀️) and Cheesecake (first made by the greeks.Not the Divine 9 tho) for Juneteenth.

**edit. Yes this flavor has been made by other companies…but why this one for Juneteenth ? Why not Peanut Butter something (in honor of Dr. George Washington Carver) And apparently the Brand on the left is black owned and just started selling their products in Walmart recently….soooooo Walmart basically ripped off the flavor, put it in “festive” packaging and is probably going to undercut them in price.

Commenters discussed Walmart Juneteenth ice cream flavors with tweets mentioning Creamalicious’ Right as Rain (Red Velvet and cheesecake) flavor:

Creamalicious’ social media posts made no mention of Walmart Juneteenth ice cream, their own flavor, or their presence at Walmart as a stocked brand. However, @socreamalicious retweeted a few tweets like this — tacitly confirming the similarity:

We saw no interaction from Walmart’s social media team on any aspect of the Juneteenth ice cream controversy, either on Facebook or on Twitter.

Summary

Walmart Juneteenth ice cream became the subject of widespread controversy on or around May 23 2022; several sub-controversies followed. If Walmart’s Juneteenth ice cream was real, Walmart made it very difficult to find. A pre-controversy post on Reddit appeared to show the product in a Walmart stockroom, before it went viral, and one person claimed it was later marked “recalled.”

As for the trademark aspect of the Walmart Juneteenth controversy, trademark attorney Ticora Davis explained that the company attempting to trademark the term “Juneteenth” (Balchem) was not successful. It was not clear if that company was involved with Walmart’s Great Value ice cream.

Finally, it is true black-owned brand Creamalicious had a red-velvet-cake-and-cheesecake flavor called Right as Rain. On social media, @socreamalicious didn’t directly acknowledge Walmart’s Juneteenth ice cream. However, the brand did retweet other users’ tweets calling out the similarity.

We have contacted Walmart for more information; we will update this story when we hear back.

Update, May 24 2022, 11:48 AM

On May 23 2022, KTTV obtained a statement from the retailer, acknowledging the existence of Walmart Juneteenth ice cream and apologizing for the product:

“Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence,” the company said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. “However, we received feedback that a few items caused concern for some of our customers and we sincerely apologize. We are reviewing our assortment and will remove items as appropriate.”

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