Allergic to Nuts

Possibly my favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’ve loved them since the cheesy ‘80s commercials where a person walking down the street eating a chocolate bar would clumsily bump into someone eating out of a jar of peanut butter. Shockingly, the chocolate bar would fall into the jar of peanut butter and the duo would try the concoction and say, “delicious!”

“Two great tastes that taste great together” was their tagline.

To help me feel festive, Reese’s offers holiday peanut butter cups in shapes inspired by the season. They come in the shape of Christmas trees, Easter eggs, Valentine’s hearts, and Halloween ghosts and pumpkins.

Reese’s packaging is even festive, as their Halloween wrapper features mockups of peanut butter pumpkins carved to look like jack-o-lanterns. Unfortunately, Cynthia Kelly thinks that Reese’s Halloween peanut butter cups are more trick than treat.

In October, Kelly purchased a package of pumpkin peanut butter cups from her local Aldi. When she opened the package, however, she was shocked to find that they not only lacked the “cute looking” carved eyes and mouth shown on the packaging, but any carvings at all. She also learned that the peanut butter ghosts did not have the eyes or mouth portrayed on their packaging.

So, Kelly has sued Hershey, the manufacturer of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, in federal court in Tampa, Florida, for $5 million, accusing the chocolatier of deceiving reasonable consumers to boost sales by falsely promising that its candies would contain “explicit carved out artistic designs.”

According to the lawsuit, Reese’s wrappers “are materially misleading and numerous consumers have been tricked and misled by the pictures on the products’ packaging.” In addition to the pumpkins and ghosts, Reese’s peanut butter footballs are missing the laces show on the wrapper. To support her claim, Kelly’s lawsuit cites several YouTube videos from other consumers expressing disappointment over the undecorated chocolates, one of which highlights the small text on the packaging that says, “decorating suggestion.”

Kelly claims she would never have paid $4.49 for the bag of the holiday peanut butter cups she noticed while near the checkout registers if she knew they were just regular old pumpkins. According to the lawsuit, the packaging for the same candies changed two to three years ago when the chocolate was accurately displayed without carved designs.

Kelly is seeking to have the lawsuit become a class action for the benefit of all Florida residents who purchased Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins, White Pumpkins, Pieces Pumpkins, Peanut Butter Ghost, White Ghost, Peanut Butter Bats, Peanut Butter footBalls and Peanut Butter Shapes Assortment Snowmen Stockings Bells. She claims that Reese’s marketing of all these products violated the state’s consumer protection laws.

Anthony Russo is Kelly’s attorney, and he claims the lawsuit is a necessary reality check. “Today, it’s a $2 item. Tomorrow it’s your vehicle, the next day it’s your home,” he told National Public Radio. “It could be your life savings or your nest egg that you’re saving for your retirement. It could be anything if it is not kept under control.”

Coincidentally, Russo has also filed lawsuits accusing Burger King and Taco Bell of selling food that when served looks less enticing than advertised.

While the lawsuit has generated many Snickers online, Kelly is hoping for a big PayDay. Hershey is hoping the judge is a fan of one of their other popular candy bars – the Zero.

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Reg P. Wydeven

Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age, Reg’s practice primarily consists of advising individuals on estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. As Reg represents clients in matters like guardianship proceedings and long-term care admissions, he feels grateful to be able to offer families thorough legal help in their time of need.

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