Why is there So Much Air in My Bag of Chips?

In one of our previous blogs, we discussed slack-fill. A classic example is the excessive air in a bag of chips—that empty space making the “family size” bag of potato chips enough for only you and your best friend (depending on their appetite). Or, more formally, slack-fill is the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein. Nonfunctional slack-fill is the empty space in a package that is filled to less than its capacity for reasons other than the six specific categories listed in our previous blog post. There are cases where non-functional slack-fill exists, but the brand has made good effort to accurately depict the product on the package. And then there are those cases of marginal slack-fill where brands may have inadvertently used packaging or print to veil the difference in volume, resulting in a lawsuit. Yes, you read that correctly. Lawsuit. In case you haven’t heard, consumers sue because they’re not getting enough bang for their buck.

We gathered up some of our favorite lawsuits are below. Heroic attempts to get more crunchy goodness than empty space? Desperate attempts for attention and cash? See if you think they are just full of hot air or legitimate enough to take to court.

  1. Strumlauf v. Starbucks Corp.: In January 2018, a California judge found that “a reasonable consumer would not be misled into believing that foam does not count toward some portion of the volume of their [Starbucks] Latte.”

  2. Wurtzburger v. Kentucky Fried Chicken: The plaintiff, a New York State resident, alleged that the defendant engaged in a national and local advertising campaign that misled consumers into believing the Defendant’s food packaging—buckets of chicken—are filled to the rim.

  3. Ebner v. Fresh, Inc: The complaint was that the screw function of the “Sugar” lip balm tube keeps the consumer from using the remaining balm, therefore, the quantity of product listed on the package is false because the last bit is unuseable.

  4. Fermin v. Pfizer, Inc.: It was argued that Advil packaging misleads the consumer by the size of their bottle compared to the amount of pills contained therein, but “the court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims, holding that, as a matter of law, it was not possible that Pfizer’s packaging could mislead a reasonable consumer when it clearly displayed the total pill-count on the label. In so holding, the court noted that ‘[i]t defies logic to accept that the reasonable consumer would not rely upon the stated pill count.’”

Have any other slack-fill lawsuits caught your attention?
If you could fight for more chips than air, would you be willing to go to court?


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