Tiny bottles of alcoholic beverages have become a regularly featured item in certain stores, but what about tiny bottles that look like Fireball Whisky, but don’t actually have any whiskey?
They’re called simply “Fireball Cinnamon” and they’re the source of a new lawsuit filed in Cook County.
The suit, filed in the United States District Court Northern District Of Illinois, names Sazerac Company, Inc., the parent company of Fireball.
In it, Chicagoan Anna Marquez claims the miniature bottles of “Fireball Cinnamon” bear resemblance to the packaging of their whiskey-centric counterparts, leading to confusion.
“The bottles appear identical but for the word ‘Whisky’ on the front label, which most purchasers seeking alcohol will not even detect,” the suit states, adding that small text on the bottom also notes it is a “Malt Beverage With Natural Whisky & Other Flavors and Caramel Color,” which it calls “a clever turn of phrase.”
“When viewed together with the Fireball distilled spirit brand name, the label misleads consumers into believing it is or contains distilled spirits,” the lawsuit reads. “As a result of the false and misleading representations, the product is sold at a premium price, $0.99 for 50 mL.”
Fireball Cinnamon is a “malt beverage” and “wine-based product” aimed at “capturing the essence of the Fireball taste” but allowing it to be sold in a wider range of stores, according to Fireball’s website.
“Over the years, we have received feedback from consumers wanting to purchase Fireball in a wider variety of convenient shopping locations, including stores that can only sell beer, malt beverages and wine products,” the website states. “In order to meet this demand, we developed a great tasting malt beverage and an excellent wine-based product under the Fireball Cinnamon brand name.”
The suit says Marquez “paid more for the product than she would have had she known the representations and omissions were false and misleading, or would not have purchased it.” It states she purchased the product for around 99 cents at a Jewel-Osco in Niles.
The lawsuit alleges the company violated state consumer fraud acts, breached express warranties and used negligent misrepresentation.
It also seeks class-action status to represent other purchasers across Illinois and in several other states, including North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah, where Fireball Cinnamon “has been sold with the representations described here from thousands of stores including grocery stores, big box stores, gas stations and convenience stores.”
Sazerac Company, Inc. told NBC Chicago they do not comment on “ongoing litigation.”