We are trying to imagine the outrage that gripped Paige Stemm when she opened a box of Junior Mints and found that it was not filled to the brim with the luscious peppermint-filled dark chocolate buttons.
Oh, the soul-crushing disappointment!
Did Ms. Stemm complain to the management at Walgreens, where she paid about $1 for the box?
Did she fire off an angry tweet or email to the company, shaming its owners with her discovery of the too-empty (in her opinion) box?
Did she reflect that perhaps it was just as well that the box wasn’t full, since she’d likely wolf down the Junior Mints and imagine how many more calories she’d have to regret later?
We don’t know.
What did happen: Stemm took her grievance to court. Her lawyers claim that the Junior Mint box is “misleading, deceptive and unlawful conduct” of the mint-maker, Chicago-based Tootsie Roll Industries. “They have created this oversized theater box, and it misleads consumers because consumers believe they’re getting more candy when they purchase a box of Junior Mints than they’re actually getting,” says attorney Christopher Moon, who seeks undisclosed damages and an order that Tootsie Roll either fill the box more or reduce the size of the packaging. The case is scheduled for an initial hearing Thursday.
Yes, some lawyers have discovered a tasty line of business. Federal class-action lawsuits related to what’s called “slack fill” in food packaging – air space in layman’s terms – have surged, according to a post on americanbar.org. And it’s not just Junior Mints and other candy in the crosshairs. These suits challenge other manufacturers, including pharmaceutical, food and consumer products companies.
But is there anyone in America who doesn’t know that their boxes of candy, cereal and other products aren’t necessarily filled to the brim? Or that you could jiggle the candy box to determine how much is inside? Or that you could read the contents weight on the label?