A woman in the Bronx has called bullshit on a farce that's been allowed to go on too long: The bagged potato products TGI Fridays has been peddling as "skins," despite their patently being skinless chips.
In June 2018, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, Solange Troncoso purchased a bag of TGI Fridays-brand Sour Cream & Onion "Potato Skins" at a local bodega for $1.99, believing them to be a healthier option than your average bodega fare. Instead, she opened the package and discovered chips composed exclusively of compressed "potato flakes" and "potato starch" and not even any skin. Troncoso felt bamboozled and blames false advertising. According to the lawsuit, she wouldn't have purchased these imposters had she known the truth.
Now, in TGI Fridays speak, "potato skin" means one of two things. If you order this item in a franchise, you will get a scooped-out baked potato filled with two cheeses (mozzarella and cheddar) and sprinkled with bacon bits, basically little carb cauldrons bubbling with dairy and swine and served with a side of sour cream. Fridays estimates that an app-sized portion (five skins?) contains over 1,500 calories, which some might argue negates the benefits of protein and fiber and vitamins baked into every tot.
But if you buy this item in a bag at a bodega, you'll get a handful of glorified Pringles, which I don't think anyone would argue are healthful, and which come in three flavors: bacon ranch, cheddar and bacon, and sour cream and onion.
Troncoso, however, seems to have anticipated a bag full of literal skins. The complaint frames that as a reasonable expectation to have, thanks to Big Potato's—in particular, the Idaho Potato Commission—concerted efforts to position potatoes' skins as convenient vitamin wrappers on America's favorite starchy side. The lawsuit cites various articles extolling the health benefits of potato skins, as in the skin of potatoes, and not the Loaded Potato Skins or Loaded Potato Skin-flavored wafers Fridays is slinging.
Given Big Potato's indoctrination campaign, a chip bag that promises nutritious potato skin "imparts a further value in the eyes of reasonable consumers"—value Fridays' products utterly lack, the lawsuit argues. And per federal law, a product is considered misbranded if "it is an imitation of another food, unless its label bears, in type of uniform size and prominence, the word 'imitation' and, immediately thereafter, the name of the food imitated," even if the intent was never to mislead consumers.
TGI Fridays did not immediately respond to our request for comment, although we will update if they do.
Troncoso has not specified the sum she is seeking in recompense for the alleged deception, opting instead to leave that determination up to expert testimony. And while her indignation stems (allegedly) from being sold an inadequately nutritious product, mine stems from the audacity inherent in Fridays peddling compacted potato flakes under the banner of a tasty oven-baked potato treat. How will I ever renew my faith in a restaurant chain that fraudulently celebrates the arrival of Friday six times a week?