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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Hillsborough County woman has filed a major class action lawsuit against The Hershey Company, claiming the chocolate maker used “false and misleading advertising” for its Reese’s candies.
According to court documents, Cynthia Kelly is suing Hershey’s “on behalf of herself and all other similarly situated persons who purchased a Reese’s Peanut Butter product based on false and misleading advertising.”
The complaint, filed Thursday in Florida’s Middle District Court, alleges that Hershey’s violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The lawsuit centers on the following Reese’s Peanut Butter products:
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins
- Reese’s White Pumpkins
- Reese’s Pieces Pumpkins
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Ghost
- Reese’s White Ghost
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Bats
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Footballs
- Assorted Reese’s Peanut Butter Shapes Snowmen, Stockings, Bells
The problem is not their taste, but their appearance. In the lawsuit, Kelly claimed that Reese’s Peanut Butter products were “falsely” represented as “containing explicit sculpted artistic designs when there are no such carvings in the actual products.”
According to the lawsuit, Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins are depicted on the label as having eyes and a mouth carved to resemble a jack-o-lantern. But the product itself does not feature any sculpting for the eyes and mouth.
Reese’s white ghost, bats, footballs, and other holiday-themed candies also lack decorative sculpting. Kelly claims many consumers were “deceived” and misled” by product images.
“Hershey labels for the products are materially misleading and many consumers have been deceived and misled by the images on the product packaging,” the suit states.
The lawsuit points to several YouTube reviews from people complaining that they were deceived by the packaging.
In one review, one YouTuber said he was “stunned.”
“Reese, what are you doing!” Look at the photo on the package. It’s like a pumpkin with faces and a little mouth – then you open the package and this monstrosity is presented to you,” they said.
“It’s a little misleading because on the front of the package they make it look like there’s a little cut-out face, a jack-o’-lantern face, and that’s not the case. I’ve been buying them, like I said, for years now and they don’t have a face cut…I just don’t think they should do that. If you want to show a face, put a face to it,” said one “long-time buyer.”
The lawsuit notes that the packaging was not always “misleading and deceptive,” but Hershey’s altered it in order to increase sales and revenue.
According to the suit, Kelly was shopping at Aldi in Hillsborough County in October when she saw Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins on display near the checkout and “believed the product contained a cute sculpture of the mouth and eyes of a pumpkin, as shown on the product packaging.”
She then purchased the bag for around $4.49. However, when she got home and unwrapped the chocolate, she was disappointed. According to documents, the woman said she “would not have purchased” the candy if she had known the Reese’s did not have the detailed carvings.
The suit alleges that Hershey’s participated in and “furthered a common scheme” to induce consumers to purchase the decorative candies through “false, misleading, deceptive and/or fraudulent representations.”
If a judge grants the lawsuit class-action status, it would apply to “all consumers in the State of Florida” who purchased Reese’s “deceptive” products.
“The subject matter of controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5,000,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and this is a class action in which the number of members of the proposed class is not less than 100 ” the lawsuit states.
The chocolate giant has 21 days to respond to the complaint.
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