Hal­loween candy hi­jinks

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I ad­mit Oc­to­ber is my fa­vorite month of the year. With it comes my son’s birth­day, At­lanta Pride and, of course, the great­est hol­i­day of the year ... Hal­loween! But as you go out to get candy for the lit­tle trick-or-treaters over the next cou­ple of weeks, just know that one item on the shelf is cur­rently in­volved in a fed­eral class ac­tion law­suit.

It started with a quick trip to a store in New York last month, when Bi­ola Daniel grabbed a $1.49 box of Ju­nior Mints on the way out. She got frus­trated upon open­ing it when she saw it was only about half-full.

It’s called “slack fill,” and it’s the same process that you dis­cover when open­ing a bag of chips. The bag seems to have as much air as it does chips, mak­ing you feel cheated. But it is in­ten­tional on the part of the man­u­fac­turer in or­der to pro­tect the chips dur­ing ship­ping. And it’s not just reg­u­lar air, since oxy­gen can cause the pota­toes to spoil and the oil to go bad. They use nitro­gen, yum.

But what about the candy? Bi­ola says when she opened the box of Ju­nior Mints, she found 40 per­cent air. She later com­pared this to other boxed can­dies and found Milk Duds had 23 per­cent and Good n Plenty had 12 per­cent slack fill.

Enough is enough. Bi­ola filed a class ac­tion law­suit al­leg­ing she “was fi­nan­cially in­jured as a re­sult of De­fen­dant’s [Toot­sie Roll In­dus­tries’] de­cep­tive con­duct as al­leged herein be­cause she did not re­ceive the quan­tity that she paid for.” Be­cause the box was card­board, the suit notes, she had no way to know she was buy­ing less candy than she ex­pected.

As much as I want to ap­plaud her ef­forts, his­tory frowns upon her suc­cess. A case is cur­rently pend­ing in Los An­ge­les and in­volves Sugar Ba­bies candy. Lawyers for Toot­sie Roll In­dus­tries ar­gued in a mo­tion to dis­miss the suit that the plain­tiff ’s slack­fill ar­gu­ments fell short.

Here in the South last year, a court tossed out a suit against Sour Patch Wa­ter­melon Candy filed be­cause of too much slack fill. The judge said they had failed to prove they were in­jured.

I can un­der­stand an ar­gu­ment that slack fill is nec­es­sary for chips be­cause of the del­i­cate na­ture of the prod­uct, even though I’m not sure half the bag needs to be empty. How­ever, in the case of candy, I don’t think the ex­tra air is nec­es­sary or will do any­thing to pro­tect the heavy sub­stance any­way. You’d think pack­ing more pieces in those pack­ages would do more to help keep the pieces from get­ting knocked around.

When at first you don’t suc­ceed try, try again. I do hope Bi­ola’s fight – or any that fol­low – changes the way man­u­fac­tur­ers rob us of what we paid for; and af­ter the days of an­tic­i­pa­tion and cos­tum­ing ef­forts, our kids don’t have to rip open their Hal­loween good­ness only to find their booty half-full.


Melissa Carter is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and has been heard over the years on B98.5 and Q100. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @Melis­saCarter.

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