It’s the burning question that has kept men awake since the dawn of time and launched dozens of religions in quest of answers: does my Strawberry Pop-Tart contain enough strawberries? Okay, so maybe there’s no large swath of people actually asking this question, although it’s possible there’s a religion or two out there dedicated to the popular morning pastry. But there is one woman who’s taking her quest for answers to the courts, and asking for $5 million in relief from Kellogg’s, alleging that their Strawberry Pop-Tarts don’t contain enough strawberries. What does that mean? Well, the courts get to decide – the rest of us aren’t quite sure.

Pears and Apples and Lies, Oh My!

When you bite into your morning Pop-Tart, is it strawberries you taste, or lies? That’s what one New York woman hopes to force Kellogg’s to answer in a new lawsuit filed with the Southern District of New York. Believe it or not, this is the third such lawsuit filed over the last year asking if Kellogg’s is sitting upon a throne of lies or if their products really are bursting with strawberries as the packaging suggests.

Per the Wall-Street Journal, “The latest suit, filed in the Southern District of New York last week and focused on Pop-Tart’s ‘Whole Grain Frosted Strawberry’ flavor, alleges that the products contain more pears and apples than strawberries. The case asks for $5 million in relief.

A separate complaint filed in federal court in Illinois in August raised similar concerns over ‘Frosted Strawberry’ Pop-Tarts.

‘The Product’s common or usual name of ‘Whole Grain Frosted Strawberry Toaster Pastries,’ is false, deceptive, and misleading, because it contains mostly non-strawberry fruit ingredients,’ according to the latest Pop-Tart complaint.”

We’re actually surprised to hear that there’s real fruit in them at all – be it pears, apples, or strawberries. Maybe we won’t feel so guilty next time we unwrap that silver foil and dive into a Strawberry Pop-Tart; if we can forgive all the lying, that is. 

The goal of the lawsuit is to force Kellogg’s to be more transparent in their packaging. While the lawsuit is a little silly, we can all benefit from more honest ingredient packaging. For instance, those with allergies should be able to steer clear of their triggers, and people with diet restrictions also deserve the honesty. But when it comes to flavor? We hope they don’t change it. Kellogg’s is mum on the whole thing as they don’t respond to ongoing litigation. 

Other Frivolous Lawsuits 

McDonalds

This is far from the only apparently frivolous lawsuit our great society has conjured over the years. And it would also be far from the only such lawsuit that creates positive change. Remember the lawsuit from the woman who spilled hot coffee and sued McDonalds? It turns out that lawsuit wasn’t frivolous at all. The employees at that McDonald’s ignored temperature guidelines and the woman was so badly burned across her legs and pelvic region that it took over two years for her recovery. Stella Lieback, 79, was left with 16% of her body having sustained third degree burns, including across her genitals and buttocks. 

That’s a pretty rock solid reason to sue, and it forced McDonalds to reevaluate and strictly enforce the temperature on their hot beverages. But that lawsuit is often pulled up as the gold standard of frivolous, even if we know now that it’s far from silly. There are actually penalties and fines that can be levied against cases considered to be too frivolous, as the court isn’t looking to waste time and money on petty bickering. There are however certainly enough lawsuits over the years that have us scratching our head. But like the McDonald’s suit, there’s usually much more than meets the eye. 

  • “The train didn’t kill me.” In 2000, new mom Seong Sil Kim laid down on the tracks of a train. While the intent was clearly to committ suicide, the train didn’t kill her and instead injured her horribly. According to Kim after the fact, she has no idea how she arrived at the tracks and simply woke up there – she was suffering from severe post-partum depression at the time. In order to recoup her life and try to recover from the injuries that plagued her from nearly head to toe, Kim sued the train company because the conductor had allegedly violated the safe speed limit established for pulling into a station. It seems a bit like two different problems: a woman who was not killed but was instead mangled, and a conductor who violated the speed limit and in doing so horrifically injured someone. But the New York City court sympathized with Kim and ultimately she received $5.5 million in damages. So it’s a weird story – but it did result in more stringent monitoring of train speed approaching the station. 
  • “A thumb worth $2M.” The way the media portrayed it, city examiner Cedrick Makara was on a construction site, slammed his thumb, and sued for $2M. That would obviously be an overreach, so as you can imagine there’s more to the story. Per MyCaseHelper, “Cedrick Makara was a city claims examiner. While on break, Makara used his job’s on-site bathroom, which did not have a doorknob. Makara placed his hand through the hole in the door to open it, before another employee trying to get through. His thumb was severely damaged and Makara was out of work for 6 months.

    The building managers, Newport Realty, had left the doorknob broken for an unreasonable amount of time, according to Maraka’s lawyers. When Makara sued the building manager, the jury awarded him $200,000 for medical expenses, $750,000 for his wife, along with $2 million for his pain and suffering.” Makara lost use of his thumb permanently. 

  • “I’m suing my nephew for hugging me too hard!” She became the Aunt From Hell on the internet, when Jennifer Connell went viral for suing her nephew for an overly enthusiastic hug that broke her wrist. Of course, there’s more to the story. Connell tried to get health insurance to cover the cost of care for fixing her wrist, but they offered almost nothing. So the aunt turned to the home insurance company of her nephew’s family. That’s who she wanted to sue but you can’t name an insurance company as a defendant in Florida, so she had to sue her family. Unfortunately for Connell, the lawsuit was tossed out so she had to scrape up the cost of the bills out of pocket.
  • A man sued basketball legend Michael Jordan for looking too much like him. According to the lawsuit which asked for $52M, the plaintiff was tired of being accosted in public by fans mistaking him for the superstar. 
  • A man sued Microsoft for allowing the FBI access to undeleted files that he thought would be deleted after 5 days. Per TechDirt, “He bought a Compaq computer from Circuit City loaded up with various security and encryption products. When he was arrested on gun charges, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms took his computer as well. Agents there were unable to access his computer, but handed it off to the FBI who was able to access the content by making a copy of the hard drive. The man was then embarrassed, because, among other things, his hard drive included ‘sexually explicit videos of him and his girlfriend’ as well as ‘evidence that he frequented pornographic Web sites.’ He claims that he had Microsoft IE set to erase his history every five days, and between that and the FBI being able to access his computer, Microsoft owes him a couple hundred thousand.” While it’s important that technology do as it promises to and holding businesses accountable to that is good for everyone, if you’re going to committ a crime you may as well assume all your digital dirty deeds will be revealed. 

On Pop-Tarts and Other Fine Dining Options

Pop-Tarts

The meat of the Strawberry Pop-Tart lawsuit – if you’ll forgive our pun – may seem a little silly, but there is growing concern over the honesty on food labels. Take Coca-Cola for instance. They’re required to list their ingredients, but there’s that pesky “natural flavors” section. Of course, it’s a ploy to protect their age-old secret recipe. But what does it contain, and who may be susceptible to those ingredients? Because of the way labeling is handled currently, there are no solid answers.

Buzzwords like “antibiotic free,” “all natural,” and “Organic” lure shoppers into a false sense of control and insight into their food, when they’re basically meaningless. Sugar content is often downplayed even though consumable products are required to break it down by number and daily percentage of an average diet.

So what are we really eating? Is it a pear, or is it a strawberry? Hopefully the new Pop-Tart lawsuit – as silly as it is – will help further the cause of more honest and open labeling, which is good for everyone. In the meantime, don’t trust your Pop-Tarts. Or do; we won’t judge.