Hershey sued for misrepresenting white chocolate in Reese’s cups

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

Technically, the wrapper calls the product 'White Reese's,' not combining the words 'white' and 'chocolate.' Pic: flickr/Neil Crosby
Technically, the wrapper calls the product 'White Reese's,' not combining the words 'white' and 'chocolate.' Pic: flickr/Neil Crosby

Related tags: Hershey, White chocolate, Reese's peanut butter cups, Lawsuit, false advertising, Food fraud, Chocolate, Class action, Consumer attitudes, Cocoa butter

Consumers filed a complaint in the Eastern District of New York last month alleging that the confectioner was knowingly deceiving consumers.

The suit alleges that Hershey has engaged in deceptive trade practices, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment, as well as breach of express and implied warranty. The latter offense contends that the manufacturer failed to follow through on ‘promises’ made to the consumer.

Hershey said it does not comment on pending litigation.

According to the court filing, consumers are led to believe that White Reese’s are indeed a white chocolate version of the standard milk chocolate (or dark chocolate) peanut butter cups. But the ingredient deck omits cocoa butter – the key ingredient in real white chocolate – which the defendants claim as misleading.

“[Hershey] has taken affirmative steps for consumers to mistakenly believe the products contain white chocolate and has intentionally failed to correct the misimpressions,”​ the lawsuit reads.

“The absence of any modifying term before or after ‘white’ renders the products misleading because consumers are not able to differentiate between white chocolate and cheaper substitutes like compound or confectionary coating made from vegetable oils.”

The description is confusing, the suit alleges, because “the term ‘white’ is applied to a product traditionally associated with chocolate.”

Spencer and Sheehan, the Long Island, New York firm representing the plaintiffs, specializes in class action lawsuits, including false advertising and food fraud. The firm declined to comment on the case.

Technically just ‘white’

Hershey pointed ConfectioneryNews to the product's formal title – Reese's White Peanut Butter Cups – and its webpage, which describes the product as ‘white crème.

They are made with peanuts, sugar, nonfat milk, dextrose, corn syrup solids – and vegetable oil, consisting of a mix of palm, palm kernel, shea, sunflower and safflower oils.

In addition to the classic Reese’s cups, the white version comes in egg form for Easter and as unwrapped minis.  

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from the confectioner and the law firm.

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Wrapper of the White Chocolate REESE'S when it was initially introduced to the consuming public

Posted by Brad Reese,

Hi Kristine and Editors,

The Hershey Company has a lot of talented, dedicated executives and employees who work hard everyday with passion to increase the success of the No. 1 selling candy brand in the United States, REESE'S, the first American candy brand to surpass $2 billion in retail sales in the United States.

I respect them for their integrity as well as creativity and I stand behind them 100%.

However, I have no respect for the duplicitous Hershey Company CEO who continuously seeks to substitute low quality, most unhealthiest, bad for you ingredients possible such as "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils" as a replacement for high quality cocoa butter in REESE'S products.

So let's get technical here, I point you to the following photo of the original White Chocolate REESE'S wrapper which is what made this product initially so successful:

http://www.bradreese.com/images/white-chocolate-reeses.jpg

It clearly states the ingredients of the White Chocolate REESE'S and is properly labeled:

"White Chocolate (Sugar; Nonfat Milk; Cocoa Butter; Lactose; Milk Fat)

Here's the Wikipedia description for White Chocolate:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_chocolate

Unfortunately, the duplicitous Hershey Company CEO has "code words" on REESE'S wrappers that are in my opinion meant to deceive the public trust as well as the trust of Hershey Company shareholders with regard to the quality of the ingredients used within those REESE'S products.

For example, here are the following REESE'S wrapper "code words" used by the duplicitous Hershey Company CEO when substituting low quality "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils" as ingredients replacing the use of high quality cocoa butter:

1. Made with Chocolate

2. Chocolate Coating

3. Chocolatey

4. Chocolate

5. Chocolate Bar (the "code word" clearly stated on the wrapper the new REESE'S Take 5)

If the REESE'S wrapper uses the above "code words" and does not clearly state the two words "Milk Chocolate" then that particular REESE'S product is substituting low quality "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils" as ingredients replacing high quality cocoa butter as an ingredient.

Sincerely,

Brad Reese
Palm Beach, FL

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Hersheys White Reeses

Posted by Thomas Ambrosia,

Remember folks any dumb ass lawyer can take a case and sue everyone.
This is a nonsense case and the judge must throw it out.
No where does it imply it is white chocolate which is a falsehood.
I have tried these and let me tell you THEY SUCK BIG TIME.
Why the hell Hersheys is messing with Reeses is amazing.
Amazing AOC and the rest of her squad has not gone on Twitter saying Reeses is now being racists etc.
I hope Hersheys wins the case and then files a nice 20 million $$ lawsuit against the lawyers and the named plaintiffs...Judges must start awarding monetary damaged in big $$$ against the lawyers who brought the suit and plaintiffs who bring these Nonsensical lawsuits.

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When introduced in 2004 as White Chocolate REESE'S it had high quality Cocoa Butter has an ingredient

Posted by Brad Reese,

As the grandson of H.B. Reese (my father Charles Richard Reese was the youngest of his 16 children), this REESE'S product was so successful because it was initially introduced in 2004 as White Chocolate REESE'S and it actually had "high quality" cocoa butter as an ingredient.

After initially gaining success for White Chocolate REESE'S using high quality cocoa butter, sneakily, the Hershey Company CEO then began substituting low quality "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils" as ingredients for White REESE'S replacing the use of high quality cocoa butter.

There's absolutely no excuse for this betrayal of the public trust as well as Hershey stockholder trust, the Hershey Company CEO needs to be held accountable and responsible by both Hershey Company stockholders and the public for this betrayal of their trust.

Why?

Because this is not the only REESE'S product that the Hershey CEO has sneakily substituted low quality, most unhealthiest, bad for you ingredients possible such as "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils" as a replacement for high quality cocoa butter.

Sincerely,

Brad Reese
Palm Beach, FL

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