The Ice Cream Treat You Probably Forgot Once Existed At McDonald's

Although McDonald's ice cream is still around today in the form of cones and McFlurries, the chain once served another kind of ice cream — the Tripple Ripple. According to a vintage image of a McDonald's menu that circulated on social media, this particular treat cost only around $0.20 in 1973 (or $1.39 in 2023's currency). It boasted a swirl of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice creams in a waffle cone. Sounds like a possible hit (at least among Neapolitan fans), right?

Obviously, the Tripple Ripple is no longer on the Golden Arches' menu, which in and of itself isn't too strange. After all, there are plenty of discontinued McDonald's items. However, the Tripple Ripple stands apart from the rest, as its story ended in a massive lawsuit.

Around 1972, Central Ice Cream president Tom Cummings created the Tripple Ripple and made a "handshake" deal with McDonald's, per the Chicago Tribune. According to this verbal agreement, McDonald's would include the ice cream cone as an exclusive item on its menu for 20 years. As you can imagine, this deal did not exactly go to plan.

What happened to the McDonald's Tripple Ripple?

Despite an agreement to sell the treat for 20 years, McDonald's discontinued the Tripple Ripple in 1974. The lawsuit, filed in 1977 by Tom Cummings, alleged that McDonald's backed out of the deal and did not inform him or Central Ice Cream, costing the latter millions as a result.

Central Ice Cream filed for bankruptcy in 1978, with legal documents promising to "[seek] actual and punitive damages against McDonald's." The matter went to trial in late 1983, with the court eventually siding with Cummings and Central Ice Cream. In 1985, the dispute was settled out of court, and McDonald's agreed to pay the plaintiffs $15.5 million, which was negotiated down from the original $52 million.

In the end, Central Ice Cream was able to pay back its debt with an estimated $1 million to $3 million left over. Cummings also received several million dollars, as he was the creator of the Tripple Ripple and 'signed' off on the exclusive deal in 1972. All in all, the whole situation is about as messy as a melted ice cream cone.