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Hershey sued for $5M over missing 'cute' face on Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins

A Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin with no carved-out face next to the open wrapper with a jack-o'-lantern design.
Cynthia Kelly v. The Hershey Company
A Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin with no carved-out face next to the open wrapper with a jack-o'-lantern design.

A bit of dressing-up in product advertising is to be expected, but how much embellishment do we allow before we call it a lie?

That's the question at the center of Florida woman Cynthia Kelly's lawsuit against The Hershey Company, which makes Reese's Peanut Butter products.

Kelly alleges she bought the company's "cute looking" Peanut Butter Pumpkins with a jack-o'-lantern wrapping in October, believing that the candy in question would match the picture — only to feel tricked, not treated.

"This is a class action against Hershey for falsely representing several Reese's Peanut Butter products as containing explicit carved out artistic designs when there are no such carvings in the actual products," the lawsuit states.

"In order to boost sales and revenues of the Products, Hershey's changed the packaging for the Products to include the detailed carvings within the last two to three years."

The suit claims that the problematic packaging extends to Reese's seasonal ghosts, bats and pumpkins, and it cites a number of YouTube videos of other people complaining.

Hershey declined to comment when contacted by NPR.

It is yet to be determined whether the case will make it past a judge, and Kelly is seeking at least $5 million in damages. While that may sound steep for a piece of candy, Anthony Russo — who is representing the case — said that this number 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 NPR. "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."

Hershey joins a growing list of food brands being sued for false advertising. Taco Bell, Starbucks, McDonald's and Subway have all battled claims in recent years.

Russo's firm is also representing the plaintiffs in a class action suit against Burger King, claiming that the company uses misleading advertising to represent its food items as larger than they are.

Russo said his firm receives around 100 calls a month for these types of cases.

"Some are a little wacky, to be honest with you. We probably take, you know, less than 1%," he said.

Russo added that American consumers used to be able to buy things with confidence, but the modern squeeze for profits has come at the expense of the quality of some products.

"And that's really what is at the base of all our lawsuits, and our crusade is that we're consumer justice attorneys."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Megan Lim