Hershey's Ordered To Pay Obese Americans $135 Billion

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Hershey's Ordered To Pay Obese Americans $135 Billion Link

      HERSHEY, PA--In one of the largest product-liability rulings in U.S. history, the Hershey Foods Corporation was ordered by a Pennsylvania jury Monday to pay $135 billion in restitution fees to 900,000 obese Americans who for years consumed the company's fattening snack foods.

  Jury Takes A Bite Out Of Big Chocolate

      "Let this verdict send a clear message to Big Chocolate," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Andrew Garsten, addressing reporters following the historic ruling. "If you knowingly sell products that cause obesity, you will pay."

      The five-state class-action suit accused Hershey's of "knowingly and willfully marketing rich, fatty candy bars containing chocolate and other ingredients of negligible nutritional value." The company was also charged with publishing nutritional information only under pressure from the government, marketing products to children, and artificially "spiking" their products with such substances as peanuts, crisped rice, and caramel to increase consumer appeal.

Above: Lawyers for the Hershey Corporation announce plans to appeal the court's decision.

      Jurors took less than five hours to reach the decision following a two-year trial covering nearly one million snackers in Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Texas. A majority of the unprecedented punitive damages will go toward obesity victims and their immediate families. The remainder will be funneled into weight-loss and youth-snacking prevention programs.

      "This is a vindication for myself and all chocolate victims," said Beaumont, TX, resident Earl Hoffler, holding a picture of his wife Emily, who in 1998 succumbed to obesity after nearly 40 years of chocoholism. "This award cannot bring Emily back, but I take some comfort knowing that her tragic, unnecessary death did not go unpunished."

      Hoffler's teary-eyed account of his wife's brave battle against chocolate was widely regarded as the emotional high point of the trial. First introduced to Hershey's chocolate as a young trick-or-treater, Emily quickly developed a four-bar-a-day habit, turning in adulthood to Hershey's Special Dark, a stronger, unfiltered form of the product. By age 47, she had ballooned to 352 pounds and was a full-blown chocoholic. What little savings the family had was drained by Weight Watchers memberships, Richard Simmons videotapes, and Fat Trapper pills, all of which proved futile and only prolonged the Tofflers' agonizing ordeal.

      Equally pleased by the ruling was Mel Brewer of Phoenix, whose father received free chocolate as a soldier during World War II.

Above: Just one of the millions of victims of the chocolate confectionary industry.

      "Dad came back from Europe hooked," Brewer said. "Before long, he was going through a case of Mounds and Mr. Goodbars a week. He wouldn't eat ice cream without Hershey's chocolate syrup and crushed Heath bars on it. He died of a heart attack at age 54 weighing 415 pounds."

      With litigation pending against the nation's top five chocolate makers, including a $102 billion Mississippi suit against Nestle, the entire industry is on alert. Big Chocolate has already suffered numerous major setbacks in recent years. In 1997, a California judge ordered chocolate manufacturers to fund $27 billion in education programs to prevent youth chocolate consumption. In 1999, a federal judge prohibited chocolate advertising on TV and billboards and banned the use of cartoon imagery in advertising. In addition, the judge ruled that a warning label must be placed on all chocolate products reading, "The Surgeon General Has Determined That Eating Chocolate May Lead To Being Really Fat."

      Lawyers for the Hershey Corporation said the company intends to appeal the decision, which could drive the price of a 1.4-ounce pack of Rolos as high as $1.29.

      "Adult consumers know the risks involved in using our products," Hershey's chief counsel Marvin Black said. "They know that if not used in a responsible manner, there can be some negative consequences. But this is true of anything in life. Further, the decision to use our products is one that has always been left up to the individual. The Hershey Corporation has never forced anyone to use its products, nor has it ever intentionally added substances to its candies to increase addictiveness. If consumers are hooked, it is only because of said candy's overwhelmingly delicious chocolate goodness."

      Whatever the outcome of the Hershey's appeal, the chocolate industry has irrevocably changed as a result of Monday's verdict.

      "For over a century, Hershey's has lived off the fat of the land," Erie, PA, claimant Pamela Schiff said. "Now it's time to pay us back."

-- Uncle Bob (unclb0b@aol.com), August 03, 2000


This is just the beginning Bob.

Next we can go after them tobacco guys.

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), August 03, 2000.

what about coco-puffs???

-- al-d. (dogs@zianet.com), August 03, 2000.

I'm still thinking this is a joke...right?

-- cin (cin@cinn.cin), August 03, 2000.

Wrong, cin.

The Onion publishes only serious satire.

-- No Spam Please (nos_pam_please@hotmail.com), August 03, 2000.


The Onion

-- (links@r.us), August 03, 2000.

Thanks for the post Uncle Bob. As usual The Onion's satirical writing hit the nail on the head. What isn't funny about this article is the fact that a dangerous precedent has been set by suing both tobacco and gun manufacturers. I am curious to see where these sorts of lawsuits will lead in years to come -- couldn't a chocolate company technically be sued on similar grounds once it was established that its consumption causes significant health problems?

-- wishing for moderation (uncles@m.com), August 03, 2000.

Somtimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), August 03, 2000.

oh so I guess budweiser, pizza hut, and then jack in the box will be next

this is scary. Is it the attorneys who are scoring on this?

-- cin (cin@cinn.cin), August 03, 2000.

Satire. Obviously. But, not one of the Onion's best efforts.

There is a difference between a substance that is addictive and one that is appealing. A habit based on pleasure or desire is not the same as a physiological addiction. Ever seen a person in chocolate withdrawal getting the heavy sweats?

I have yet to understand how a smoker can inhale a "safe" or "harmless" amount of tobacco smoke and avoid the risks of smoking through a "responsible" use of tobacco. In my view, the tobacco industry invited their current predicament when they openly and publically denied the existance of health risks that their own researchers told them were true.

Anyone else recall the four Big Tobacco CEOs about 4 years ago, testifying under oath before Congress that cigarettes were not dangerous and not addictive? It was enough to make anyone want to slap them upside the head with a rubber hose.

That much said, I don't believe tobacco should be taken off the market or outlawed. I'd just settle for unsubsidized.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), August 03, 2000.

You Libertarians who are hot to legalize all substances should realize the field day that the trial lawyers and the Naderites will have when they can sue Big Business for legally selling addictive substances. Substances that are already prohibited, should be left that way.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), August 03, 2000.

I beg your pardon Brian!!! But chocolate is addictive. I have just scarfed down two chocolate mint bars while sitting here reading and posting. I'd have another but alas, they are gone.

In fact, I may consider suing Hershey since I can't overcome my addiction. But I might agree to settle for a life time supply of chocolate goodies.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), August 03, 2000.

>> I beg your pardon Brian!!! But chocolate is addictive. <<

I can't tell if you are joshing. The concept of addiction has been so devalued and misapplied in the past few decades it has become possible to say that with a straight face.

AFAIK, chocolate does not cause a chemical dependency at the cellular level. Chocolate withdrawal might cause one to have obsessive thoughts about one's desire for chocolate, which might be very unpleasant. But chocolate withdrawal does not cause heavy sweats, chills, delirium, shakes, hallucinations, or other basic malfunctions of the body's self-regulatory functions.

Exactly what do you mean when you say it is addictive?

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), August 03, 2000.

Just joshin' Brian. But sometimes I do crave chocolate, and nothing else will do.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), August 03, 2000.

At the risk of pissing off yet another poster on this forum today, certainly you're not unaware that the cocoa bean and the coffee bean both contain the drug CAFFEINE? While caffeine addiction may only result in withdrawal symptoms of a bad headache, those symptoms are still very real to the addict.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), August 03, 2000.

Brian, get real !!!!!... there is no one that doesn't know the dangers of Tobacco, chocolate, booze, sugar, coffee, red meat, eggs, dairy products, geneticly alltered foods, fast foods, cell phones, air travel, train travel, and cars....... Now I agree that these should be regulated by adults so that children won't have free accsess to these addictive things, but do you want to have a law to tell you every thing you can, or can't do in your life?

-- Mr. Slippery (slip@slide.cum), August 03, 2000.


Better pissed off than pissed on, I say...

Ever seen a person in chocolate withdrawal getting the heavy sweats?

No, but I have seen women who had to choose between buying tampons and chocolate in distress :o), Chocolate craving is hormonally driven in a lot of women, I can remember looking in the back of the closit in the middle of the night for the chocky bunnies I stocked up on after easter. Or Halloween, or Christmas, or valentines day.....

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), August 03, 2000.

Absolutely not!

Good point mr slip

I dare them to try and take my coffee

-- cin (cin@cinn.cin), August 03, 2000.


lol. I'd never thought of it in such binary terms. Off.....on.....[Somehow in the back of my mind, however, I feel as though the folks who get pissed off really think they've been pissed on.] It's probably just a perceptual problem on my part.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), August 03, 2000.

There is a difference between a substance that is addictive and one that is appealing.

Brian, are guns addictive?

-- wishing for moderation (uncles@m.com), August 04, 2000.

Brian, are guns addictive? NO...........PEOPLE ARE.

-- cpr (buytexas@swbell.net), August 04, 2000.


-- cpr (buytexas@swbell.net), August 04, 2000.

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