Uh-oh! A man has filed a class-action lawsuit against Hershey. Why? He claims that the candy company is under-filling boxes of Reese’s Pieces and Whoppers. This injustice will not stand!
It turns out there’s a technical name for the empty space that comes in a bag of chips or a box of candy. It’s called “slack fill,” and sometimes the air is there to protect delicate things like crackers, or it appears after the contents of a package settle, creating more space as they compact.
But Robert Bratton, the Missouri man who filed the suit, says this is about more than just the traditional slack fill—he claims that this is dramatic under-filling. The suit alleges that Reese’s boxes are under-filled by about 29 percent, Whoppers by a whopping 41 percent. The plaintiff says this is misleading to customers who buy the boxes, believing them to be fuller than they actually are.
Hershey’s isn’t buying it though.
“Consumers are well aware of the fact that substantially all commercial packaging contains some empty space,” Hershey’s attorneys argued.
Bratton is suing Hershey using the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). This act “is meant to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices.” And the judge, so far, is siding with Bratton, denying Hershey’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. According to the judge’s ruling, the plaintiff had “plausibly alleged, at minimum, that the packaging unfairly suggests the boxes contain more product than they actually do, or…has the capacity to mislead…consumers.”
Basically, this means the lawsuit has legs. The judge believes that Bratton may be justified in being upset that the boxes of candy he bought contained substantially less candy than the size of the box suggests. And on top of that, both types of candy are sold in thin plastic bags, so the “slack-fill for protection purpose” excuse won’t fly.
We’ll all be watching with bated breath to see if Hershey owes us all a Halloween’s worth of extra candy. I’ll take my payout in Reese’s Pieces, please.