Reese's Slapped With Lawsuit Over Faceless Chocolates

A lack of detail has placed Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins and other shapes under legal scrutiny.

After 2023 was filled with a number of fast food legal battles, it looks like 2024 is kicking off with a candy debacle. A lawsuit filed December 28, 2023 in Florida alleges that The Hershey Company has misled consumers by advertising its Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins as having festively carved faces on the packaging when the candy does not actually feature such a design.

The filing actually calls out multiple Hershey products: Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins, Reese's White Pumpkins, Reese's Pieces Pumpkins, Reese's Peanut Butter Ghosts, Reese's White Ghosts, Reese's Peanut Butter Bats, Reese's Peanut Butter Footballs, and Reese's Peanut Butter Shapes Assortment (which includes Snowmen, Stockings, and Bells). Each of these candies is shown on the packaging to have some sort of design carved into the surface of the chocolate, none of which are actually present on the product.

For those who purchase these themed Reese's products each year, it's already well known that the candies more often look like misshapen chocolate blobs than anything resembling a bat or a football. The brand knows this, too, and has evidently mocked its own shapes in the past.

The plaintiff in the case notes that in October 2023 they purchased Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins from ALDI for $4.49, believing the product contained cute little cut-out eyes and mouth as was pictured on the packaging. As the filing shows, however, the unwrapped Reese's product had no such cut-outs at all, and the plaintiff says they would not have purchased the candy if they'd known this. (Pro tip: If you want a cute Jack o' Lantern face, you gotta get these.)

Regardless of whether the truth about Reese's shapes is common knowledge, the plaintiff in this case is seeking $5 million in damages from the candy company on behalf of consumers in Florida who were allegedly misled by the packaging of these chocolates. The filing alleges that Hershey not only misled consumers with this packaging to boost its sales, but that the same pumpkin chocolates were previously advertised in the past without any carvings (the lawsuit includes product images). The Hershey Company allegedly updated the packaging to include the designs somewhere in the last two to three years.

What sets this particular case apart from the ongoing food battles of 2023, like Taco Bell's alleged lack of beefiness or Burger King's alleged Whopper misrepresentation, is the fact that the plaintiff will have to prove the chocolates were bought specifically because of the designs depicted on the package. While that's also true on some level in the Taco Bell and Burger King cases, it might be determined that customers are generally already aware Reese's holiday chocolates don't resemble actual jack-o'-lanterns or snowmen but buy them anyway—the right evidence could even make the argument that it's part of the candies' charm. Notably, the lawyer representing the plaintiff in this Hershey case is also behind the Burger King and Taco Bell class action lawsuits.

We believe that what truly matters in any Reese's purchase is the chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio. But this legal battle further drives home the fact that consumers are growing tired of smoke and mirrors obscuring the true nature of their food.

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