The $5m lawsuit over a missing jack-o’-lantern face

Everywhere you look, there’s a new lawsuit for false advertising.

A Florida woman is suing The Hershey Co. over Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins, a trick-or-treating staple, and other associated products.

Packaging of Reese’s Halloween candies, which appear to be small chocolate pumpkins with cutout jack-o’-lantern faces exposing peanut butter underneath.

The beef: The packaging suggests each individually wrapped candy has a jack-o’-lantern face etched on it, allowing the peanut butter filling to peek through. In reality, the pumpkins, ghosts, bats, and other Halloween treats are vaguely shaped blobs, with nary a face to be seen.

Plaintiff Cynthia Kelly is seeking $5m, which attorney Anthony Russo, who’s also involved in a false advertising lawsuit against Burger King, claims is a number meant to prove a point.

“Today, it’s a $2 item — tomorrow it’s your vehicle, the next day it’s your home,” he told NPR.

I will admit that I, too…

… was surprised by the lack of pumpkin faces (though I continue to put a big bowl of them out for my neighbors every Halloween).

A number of lawsuits are now highlighting potentially deceptive advertising in food:

  • Subway has been sued multiple times for chicken that isn’t chicken, tuna that isn’t tuna, and bread that isn’t bread.
  • One New York attorney has filed 400+ class-action lawsuits against food and beverage companies, alleging a little bit of everything: that some “fudge” products aren’t technically fudge, that strawberry Pop-Tarts contain too few strawberries in the filling, and that “hint of lime” Tostitos don’t use enough lime juice.

But is it as dire as Russo claims?

Well, he’s not wrong about false advertising invading the housing and vehicle markets.

In 2018, the FTC took aim at a network of subscription rental sites that were “rife with inaccurate or unavailable listings,” and last year fined Roomster over phony listings and reviews.

Last month, a group filed a complaint with the FTC against Toyota for allegedly marketing hybrid vehicles with internal combustion engines as EVs.

California’s DMV wants Tesla to stop using “Full Self-Driving” to describe its automated driving feature, which requires some driver interaction. Elon Musk claims this violates Tesla’s right to free speech.

So, if you think your money should buy what’s advertised, then sure, sue Reese’s over the missing faces. Just don’t get us started on Reese’s big-ass pumpkin that contains very little peanut butter at all.

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