One unhappy customer is suing Kellogg’s over strawberry-flavored Pop-Tarts.
By Melissa Farthing, Copy Editor
Who doesn’t appreciate these breakfast staples? Seriously, you can’t go wrong with a soft pastry stuffed with a gooey filling and slathered with sickeningly sweet icing. You can eat them at any time of the day. Morning? Part of a balanced breakfast. Afternoon? A sugary pick me up. 12 a.m.? The perfect way to satisfy midnight munchies.
The flavor choices are also endless. You got fruit flavors, chocolate flavors, even seasonal flavors that only roll out during the holidays (looking at you, Pumpkin Pie).
Ah yes, everyone loves Pop-Tarts.
Except for Elizabeth Russett.
You see, Elizabeth hates Pop-Tarts. Especially the strawberry ones. Mainly because they don’t have enough strawberries in them. In fact, there really isn’t much strawberry in them at all. It’s more of an apple and pear combination flavored to taste like strawberry. Elizabeth finds this unacceptable. Deplorable, even. Mislabeled fruit products make Elizabeth so upset that she seeks money to compensate for her displeasure. How much? The amount she paid for the Pop-Tarts? Nope, not nearly enough. Five million dollars? Yeah, that sounds more reasonable.
If you thought the above paragraph was a fictional anecdote, I’m sorry to report that you are very, very wrong. Elizabeth Russett is a real lady, and she has filed a lawsuit against Kelloggs for five million USD. Why? Because there aren’t enough strawberries in strawberry Pop-Tarts, of course!
According to Russett, Kelloggs is misleading its consumers by advertising strawberry-flavored Pop-Tarts as being, well, strawberry-flavored. She claims that because strawberry Pop-Tarts include dried apples and pears in their ingredients list and other artificial flavors, they cannot be labeled as strawberry flavored. Let’s remind everyone that dried strawberries are, in fact, also on the ingredients list.
Russett also alleges that there are other things wrong with strawberry Pop-Tarts. For example, putting on the box that Pop-Tarts are made with whole grain is a relatively true statement (wheat flour is at the top of the ingredients list). Therefore, consumers will be led to believe that the statement “strawberry-flavored” will also be true. Russett believes that if customers truly knew the lack of strawberries in their Pop-Tarts, they would refuse to pay the sky-high price of $2.08 (at Walmart), since strawberries are 50 percent more expensive than pears, according to the Washington Post.
To add even more to the absurdity of this story, the firm handling this lawsuit, Sheehan & Associates, is representing two other plaintiffs who are suing Kelloggs for the exact same thing. Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates is no amateur when it comes to food-related lawsuits. According to NPR, he’s filed lawsuits against vanilla-flavored products (for using synthetic vanilla), hint-of-lime Tostitos (for not using enough real lime juice), and Snack Pack pudding (for alleging that its pudding is made with real milk when it is actually made with…wait for it…skim milk). It should be noted that most lawsuits that Sheehan files don’t end up going anywhere. He recently told Law Street Media that he loses “a lot more than most people.”
With that being said, it is very unlikely that strawberry Pop-Tarts will be changing their recipe anytime soon. And I highly doubt that will upset anyone.
Except for, of course, Elizabeth Russett.