If you’ve ever wondered why you can buy Fireball Nips at gas stations and convenience stores that only have a wine and beer license, you’re not alone.
It turns out there are actually two types of Fireball Nips – one that contains whiskey and one that doesn’t.
Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey is the same product you would find in a larger Fireball bottle and contains whisky. But Fireball also makes a product called “Fireball Cinnamon” (without the word whiskey at the end), which is a malt beverage meant to mimic the taste of the original product.
The two products look virtually identical aside from the slight change in name and a small print description of the product at the bottom of the front label. While Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey says “whisky naturally cinnamon flavored” on the bottom, Fireball Cinnamon says “malt beverage with natural whiskey and other flavors and caramel color.”
To be clear, this means that the product contains natural whiskey tastenot natural whisky.
A new class action lawsuit in Illinois federal court alleges that the way Fireball Cinnamon is marketed is misleading, leading customers to believe they are buying whiskey when they are not. Specifically, the lawsuit cites the similar label designs and the slightly misinterpreted fine print at the bottom of the Fireball Cinnamon label.
“Expect those little bottles labeled ‘Fireball Cinnamon’ to contain whiskey [is] an easy mistake to make that’s intentional by the manufacturer,'” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, the product has caused confusion, with some customers questioning whether gas stations and convenience stores selling Fireball Cinnamon are breaking the law by selling whiskey.
The product is so deceptive, the lawsuit alleges, that its 99-cent nips are causing Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey sales at liquor stores to decline because customers believe they are buying the same product at a lower price elsewhere be able.
The lawsuit states that while it is legal for Sazerac, the company that makes Fireball, to use the Fireball trademark on non-whisky products, it is illegal for Fireball to give a “misleading overall impression” of the nature of the product awakened .
Fireball’s website explains the difference between the products and why they created Fireball Cinnamon in the first place.
“Over the years, we’ve had feedback from consumers wanting to purchase Fireball from a wider variety of budget shopping locations, including stores that may only sell beer, malts and wine products,” it writes.
Sazerac told Boston.com it is not commenting on pending litigation.
The federal lawsuit seeks over $5 million in damages on behalf of over 100 plaintiffs, but everyone living in Illinois, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, South Carolina or Utah alive and bought Fireball Cinnamon can join.
The law firm behind the lawsuit, Sheehan & Associates, is known for suing major food and beverage companies for false advertising. In October 2021, Sheehan & Associates sued Kellogg for not having an actual strawberry in strawberry pop tarts. A few months before the Pop Tart suit, it sued Frito-Lay for not having enough lime juice in its Hint of Lime chips.
According to NPR, the company filed over 400 similar lawsuits as of 2021. Fireball is only the most recent target.
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