Are King's Hawaiian Rolls Authentically Hawaiian? Not According to this Lawsuit
Class action lawsuits about food always make for an entertaining read. However, for the companies that are defendants in these lawsuits, they are no laughing matter. Already i 2020, we have seen lawsuits that allege that Folgers makes nowhere near as many cups as the label says. Now, there is a lawsuit that alleges that customers have been shortchanged because King's Hawaiian Rolls are not made in Hawaii. The lawsuit claims that customers buy the product because they want a product made in Hawaii and are not getting the benefit of their bargain.
These Hawaiian Rolls are Made in California
King's Hawaiian Rolls have long been a favorite on holiday tables. The sweet rolls go well with seemingly every kind of dinner. The company has been in business for 70 years, and its products are on practically every grocery store shelf imaginable. Until now, nobody has ever questioned the origin of these rolls. However, there is an attorney in New York that has made a living out of suing food companies for implied claims and package sizes. Now, this law firm has taken aim at King's for another alleged issue that it believes should result in a multimillion dollar settlement that would net the law firm hefty fees.
With King's Hawaiian Rolls, there is some ambiguity about where the product is really made. Looking at the packaging one could draw several conclusions about the origin of the product. There is a prominent label on the package that says that the rolls are made in Hawaii. However, there is also another place on the package that says that the rolls are a product of California.
The Lawsuit Claims that Consumers Have Been Duped into Paying More for These Rolls
The lawsuit alleges that the name of the product and the claims made by the company wrongly lead consumers to believe that the rolls are a product of Hawaii. Thus, consumers do not fully get what they pay for when they purchase the product. The company says customers expect truth when they buy the product and could end up feeling lied to and misled.
King's Rolls were originally made in Hawaii when the company was started in 1950. As the company grew, they moved some production outside of Hawaii to California and Georgia. This is detailed on the company's website. The company still lists the town of Hilo, Hawaii on the side of its packaging notwithstanding the fact that the rolls might be made elsewhere.
The plaintiff latches on to the fact that King's filed numerous legal actions to keep other companies from using Hawaiian-type market on their similar products. The plaintiff claims that this helps create consumers' expectations that these rolls actually were made on the Hawaiian Islands and were similar to King’s product.
Here, the plaintiff alleges that consumers pay a price for authentic products. However, Hawaiian rolls that are marketing as authentic but made in California allegedly shortchange consumers. The plaintiff claims that these rolls are the most expensive product in their class because of the Hawaiian connection that the company creates. Without a true connection, the product would be worth less than what customers paid.
Where the complaint gets interesting is that the plaintiffs claim that reasonable consumers would ordinarily not associate Hawaiian rolls with Hawaii no more than they would associate a "moon pie" with the moon. However, the company goes out of its way to create a tie between the bread and the islands.
This is the latest is a line of lawsuits by the same firm that target where companies state is the origin of the products. In November 2020, the law firm filed a class action lawsuit against Heineken for its sales of Tecate marketed as Mexican beer. Instead, the product is brewed in The Netherlands. The plaintiffs claim that they pay more for an authentic Mexican product but also end up shortchanged because the product is allegedly not really Mexican.
While many might either laugh or be angry about these types of suits, there are attorneys who are able to earn a decent living off filing them. These lawsuits do not result in sanctions against the lawyers filing them. Also, while these types of class action suits may seem abusive, the system is a check against companies taking advantage of consumers by selling them a product that does not live up to the claims made.
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