Jell-O Defense Fails to Sway Jury in Drunk-Driving Case

Bill Cosby never did this with Jell-O.

A Van Nuys jury has convicted Martin Barry Eisen, 34, of drunken driving, rejecting his defense that he had eaten three bowls of the gelatin confection that, unbeknownst to him, had been laced with vodka by a friend.

Eisen of Los Angeles, who was ordered to pay $1,053 in fines and court costs and undergo three months of alcohol education, contended the cherry-flavored dessert masked the flavor of the alcohol and that he had been unwittingly intoxicated.

“This was a first for us,” a spokesman for the city attorney’s office said of the defense, entered in a three-day trial that ended Wednesday.


Eisen, who had a blood-alcohol level of .10 at the time of his arrest, said he had eaten the dessert 25 minutes before being stopped by police officers in North Hollywood on the evening of Nov. 11 for going 55 m.p.h. in a 35 m.p.h. zone.

After failing a field sobriety test, Eisen was taken into custody.

“You see how grown-ups can mess up something if it isn’t for the children?” said Cosby, the leading spokesman for Jell-O. “I would think that a person should know when he or she not only has had too much Jell-O, but when they’ve had too much to drink.”

A spokeswoman for General Foods USA, the makers of Jell-O brand gelatin, said the company is aware that some people mix its product with alcohol, but is unsure to what degree its dessert would mask the flavor of alcohol or how frequently it is used that way.


“We are aware, certainly, of this usage of our product,” said Nan Redmond. “It is not a usage that we promote for Jell-O, and, as with any product, it has to be used responsibly, and that is the responsibility of the consumer.”