What Do You Mean Crunch Berries Are Not A Real Fruit?
For your consideration another ridiculous lawsuit. This lady is an example of why the government might one day monitor each and everything we put in our mouths. When people start pleading ignorance about the fact that a bacon double cheeseburger and hugemongous fries are bad for you and start claiming that they thought crunchberries were real fruit, it looks like it is time for the government to get involved. It’s Captain Crunch lady. Get a grip and read the label. Crunchberries are not real berries, and they do not fulfill your recommended daily intake of fruit. There is a cartoon captain on the front of the box for heaven’s sake.
Here are the facts of the case as alleged by the plaintiff and summarized in the court’s decision.
Sugawara v. Pepsico
Plaintiff is an individual consumer and resident of California. Defendant manufactures, markets, and promotes “Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries” cereal (“the Product”). Defendant merged with The Quaker Oats Company (“Quaker”) in 2001, and Quaker is now a unit of Defendant. In addition to the use of the word “berries” in the Product name, the Product’s principal display panel (“PDP”), the portion of the Product box designed to face consumers as they shop in a market aisle, features the Product’s namesake, “Cap’n Crunch” thrusting a spoonful of “Crunchberries” at the prospective buyer. The Crunchberries are pieces of cereal in bright fruit colors, shaped to resemble berries. While close inspection reveals that the Crunchberries on the PDP are not really berries, Plaintiff contends that the colorful Crunchberries, combined with use of the word “berry” in the Product name, convey the message that Cap’n Crunch is not all sugar and starch, but contains redeeming fruit. This message is allegedly supplemented and reinforced by additional marketing that represents that “Crunch Berries is a combination of Crunch biscuits and colorful red, purple, teal and green berries.” In actuality, the Product contains no berries of any kind. If the consumer takes the box from the shelf and examines the fine print of the ingredient list, he or she will discover that the only fruit content is a touch of strawberry fruit concentrate, twelfth in order on the ingredient list.
Accordingly, Plaintiff contends, inter alia, that Defendants’ marketing of the Product is deceptive and likely to mislead and deceive a reasonable consumer. Indeed, during the past four years, Plaintiff alleges she purchased the Product in large part because she had been exposed to advertising and representations of Defendant. She was allegedly misled by the packaging and marketing, which she argues convey the message that the Product contains real, nutritious fruit. Plaintiff contends that she trusted Defendant’s Quaker label because that company has a long history of producing wholesome breakfast cereals.
In this case, to the contrary, while the challenged packaging contains the word “berries” it does so only in conjunction with the descriptive term “crunch.” This Court is not aware of, nor has Plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a “crunchberry.” Furthermore, the “Crunchberries” depicted on the PDP are round, crunchy, brightly-colored cereal balls, and the PDP clearly states both that the Product contains “sweetened corn & oat cereal” and that the cereal is “enlarged to show texture.” Thus, a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the Product in the instant case contained a fruit that does not exist. Additionally, contrary to the packaging in Williams, the instant packaging makes no claim to be particularly nutritious or to be designed specifically to meet the nutritional needs of toddlers or children, nor does it contain any images of actual fruit that would convince this Court the instant packaging was even potentially deceptive. In this case, there is no reference to fruit on the PDP unless one believes that a “Crunchberry” is some form of produce. Indeed, even though Plaintiff claims that the brightly-colored cereal balls are shaped to resemble berries, she acknowledges that “[c]lose inspection reveals that Crunchberries on the PDP are not really berries.” Opposition, 2:11. Accordingly, it is entirely unlikely that members of the public would be deceived in the manner described by Plaintiff.
As stated, Plaintiff claims Defendant expressly warranted that the Product contains berries. However, that simply is not the case. Defendant chose the moniker “Crunchberries” for its brightly colored cereal balls. As far as this Court has been made aware, there is no such fruit growing in the wild or occurring naturally in any part of the world. Furthermore, a reasonable consumer would have understood the Product packaging to expressly warrant only that the Product contained sweetened corn and oat cereal, which it did. Accordingly, Defendant did not promise Plaintiff that the Product contained fruit, nor did the Product contain anything other than that which was actually expressly warranted. Thus, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Breach of Express Warranty cause of action is granted with leave to amend.
In other words, even though the United States District Court For The Eastern District of California could not say it, if you think crunchberries are a real fruit than you are more than a couple of McNuggets shy of your happy meal. Just because this court was logical and thoughtful does not mean that at some other time in some other court another consumer might not succeed with a similar lawsuit. Case in point, the plaintiffs lawyers had previously tried to sue the makers of Froot Loops on similar grounds. That’s “Froot” not “Fruit.” That court dismissed that case as well.
Please ladies and gentlement, take heed, there are no crunchberry trees, bushes, or fields out there in the farm belt of America. They are not real fruit, and they do not contain any of the nutrisious properties of real fruit. They may be tasty, but they cannot and will not be placed in the fruit and vegetable section of your local supermarket. Lesson concluded. Next week the reasons why bacon double cheeseburgers are bad for you.
Thank You For Your Consideration,
The Graham Ten