Charleston food truck Booze Pops opened in summer 2015, but new legislation threatens the business, which has expanded to over a dozen trucks across the state. | Photo by Ruta Smith

A bill expected to be filed again in the S.C. House of Representatives would make businesses that sell alcoholic food products follow the same rules as those that sell alcoholic beverages, S.C. Rep. Spencer Wetmore, D-Charleston, told the Charleston City Paper Tuesday morning.

Wetmore | Provided

“I’m definitely going to look into filing to regulate so they have to follow the same rules,” she said. 

Wetmore, alongside S.C. Rep. Micah Caskey, R-Lexington, co-sponsored a bill last year that passed the S.C. House by a 66-35 vote March 30, 2022, but it didn’t pick up steam after being left stranded in the S.C. Senate Judiciary Committee when the session ended. 

Now, she may try again

“I think a lot of restaurants that have to follow all the licensing laws are still interested in this issue,” Wetmore said. “But we will need the Senate to come to the table if it’s going to be something we’re going to address.”

If the bill became law, it would have a major impact on local food truck Booze Pops, which has been able to sell alcohol-infused popsicles thanks to a loophole that classifies its products as food. 

Booze Pops owner Woodrow Norris started the business with a single van about eight years ago and now has more than a dozen trucks across the state. Last year’s bill would have shut down the business unless he found a brick and mortar location. If Wetmore files a bill this session, it could have a similar impact.

“We went through hell on this,” Norris told the City Paper Monday afternoon before declining further comment.

Concern about the product is nothing new. In 2017, the city of Charleston wrote a letter to the state Department of Revenue, citing concerns about street vendors selling alcohol-infused products to the public on the street. 

Several state offices have partial or presumed jurisdiction over alcoholic products, particularly because of state law in Title 61, which governs alcohol and alcoholic beverages. Frozen desserts aren’t mentioned. 

“Booze pops, ice cream and gelatin are not governed by Title 61 and are not under the Department of Revenue’s jurisdiction,” said DOR spokesman Tim Smith. “Some argue that they are regulated under Title 39 by the S.C. Department of Agriculture. … We do not know if the product should be tested in a frozen or liquid state.”

According to the federal Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), “ice cream and ices” are not considered beverages when “only sufficient spirits are used for flavoring purposes.” The TTB generally draws that line at not greater than 2% alcohol by weight. Popsicles, however, are a bit different. According to the TTB’s website, a review of a range of different frozen desserts, popsicles and similar products generally have a higher density than ice cream and therefore often contain higher concentrations of alcohol. 

It is not known how much alcohol is contained in a single serving of Booze Pops’ popsicles.

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