Those 99-cent, mini bottles of Fireball Cinnamon don’t actually contain whiskey – and a class-action lawsuit filed earlier this month is accusing Fireball’s maker, Sazerac Company, Inc., of misleading consumers.
Unlike the original, whiskey-based Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, Fireball Cinnamon products “include malt-based and wine-based alcoholic beverages,” according to the Fireball’s website.
This means that Fireball Cinnamon, which is flavored to taste like whiskey without actually including the liquor, can be sold in a “wider variety” of stores – including establishments that are not permitted to sell liquor.
According to Fireball, Fireball Cinnamon is available in about 170,000 stores “that can only sell beer, malt beverages and wine products” across the U.S.
But the packaging of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and Fireball Cinnamon make it hard for consumers to distinguish between the two, the lawsuit says.
Sharing streaming platforms? Netflix says it plans to halt free password sharing before April
For consumers:FDA issues proposed levels for lead in processed baby food products
The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Jan. 7, says that Fireball Cinnamon bottles “appear identical” to Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey bottles – except for “the word ‘Whisky’ on the front label, which most purchasers seeking alcohol will not even detect.”
In addition, the filling points to Fireball Cinnamon’s statement of composition, which reads: “Malt Beverage With Natural Whisky & Other Flavors and Carmel Color.”
“What the label means to say is that the Product contains ‘Natural Whisky Flavors & Other Flavors,’ but by not including the word ‘Flavors’ after ‘Natural Whisky,’ purchasers who look closely will expect the distilled spirit of whiskey was added as a separate ingredient,” the suit says.
When contacted by USA TODAY on Thursday, Fireball maker Sazerac said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
October:Marketed as ‘Italy’s No. 1 brand of pasta,’ Barilla sued over product not being made in Italy
Plaintiff Anna Marquez is a Chicago resident who purchased Fireball Cinnamon under the impression that it was whiskey and/or contained whiskey, the suit says – noting that Marquez is not alone.
The suit seeks to represent “more than 100” additional consumers who similarly purchased the product “from thousands of stores including grocery stores, big box stores, gas stations and convenience stores.”
In addition to Illinois residents like Marquez, the class-action suit seeks to cover anyone in North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, South Carolina or Utah who purchased Fireball Cinnamon.
The lawsuit accuses Sazerac of violating state consumer-fraud statutes, breaching express warranty and benefitting from unjust enrichment.
What’s everyone talking about? Sign up for our trending newsletter to get the latest news of the day.
“While federal and identical state regulations allow the Product’s use of the distilledspirit brand name of Fireball, they prohibit the overall misleading impression created as to ‘Fireball Cinnamon’ version,” the suit says.
The amount of damages that the class-action suit seeks “exceeds $5 million, including any statutory and punitive damages,” the filling says.