Represented by the same firm that filed the “Heart of the Himalayas” case I mocked last week, plaintiffs in at least three states are claiming they were misled by the advertising for Strawberry Pop-Tarts. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege they bought Strawberry Pop-Tarts because they believed the aforementioned Tarts would contain only the aforementioned fruit, when in fact said Tarts contain “mostly non-strawberry fruit ingredients.” This of course is a cut above the “Crunch Berries” and “Froot Loops” lawsuits, which were handicapped by the fact that neither crunch berries nor froot actually occur in nature. But that isn’t saying a lot.
Do Strawberry Pop-Tarts in fact contain “mostly non-strawberry fruit ingredients,” as the lawsuits allege? Let us consider this question.
According to the ingredient label—and yes, a consumer would have to rotate the box by up to 180 degrees in order to read that label, but let’s pretend for a minute that this is something a consumer would have the strength to do—the first ingredient on the list is not fruit at all but enriched flour. (I know this is shocking to you, but please try to continue reading.) Next comes corn syrup, dextrose, sugar, soybean and palm oil, and bleached wheat flour. Then comes the fruit, and the label says a Tart contains “two percent or less of … dried strawberries, dried pears, [and] dried apples….” So I guess you could say a Tart is “mostly non-strawberry,” in that not less than 98 percent of said Tart is comprised of something other than strawberries. It is also “mostly non-fruit” (at least 94 percent being some non-fruit substance). On the other hand, based on the order in which they’re listed, it would appear that a Tart contains more strawberry than it does pear or apple, maybe significantly more. So maybe the fruit ingredients are “mostly strawberry.” Plaintiff says they aren’t, though, and surely no one would file a lawsuit without actually knowing. And had she known about those dried pears and apples, Plaintiff alleges, she of course would never have bought the aforementioned Pop-Tarts.
Well, perhaps most reasonable Strawberry Pop-Tarts purchasers believe that the product is chock-full of strawberries and only strawberries. Or perhaps not. But at least in the Illinois case (and probably in all three), the plaintiff also alleges that she was specifically seeking out Strawberry Pop-Tarts because of their health benefits, or the health benefits of strawberries, at least, and this is where things get really stupid.
That plaintiff allegedly believes that strawberries (or something in them) will “protect your heart, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer,” according to this report. Pears and apples apparently do none of this, according to the plaintiff, and hence she was deprived of the health benefits for which she so handsomely paid. When she bought a pack of Strawberry Pop-Tarts, which reasonable consumers apparently perceive as a health food. Congratulations to whoever gets to take this woman’s deposition, assuming the case survives that long.
Credit goes to @bmaz on Twitter for referring to this as a “pop tort.”