Heartbroken cereal litigant loses suit over non-existence of "Crunchberries"

A woman sued the Cap'n Crunch people because her cereal didn't contain any "crunchberries":
On May 21, a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed a complaint filed by a woman who said she had purchased "Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries" because she believed "crunchberries" were real fruit. The plaintiff, Janine Sugawara, alleged that she had only recently learned to her dismay that said "berries" were in fact simply brightly-colored cereal balls, and that although the product did contain some strawberry fruit concentrate, it was not otherwise redeemed by fruit. She sued, on behalf of herself and all similarly situated consumers who also apparently believed that there are fields somewhere in our land thronged by crunchberry bushes.
Reasonable Consumer Would Know "Crunchberries" Are Not Real, Judge Rules (Thanks, @czelticgirl!)


  1. I’m with the litigant on this one! I recently bought a 20-acre farm with the sole intent of raising me up some Crunchberries, but now I am financially ruined. I’m-a-gonna sue someone! Also my vacation package to the Azores aboard the Guppy was cancelled. Now I’m moving to Montana to raise me some dental floss, gonna be a dental floss tycoon!

  2. I say more power to her. I’ve long wanted to sue Rice Krispies Squares treat because they were not square-shaped at all. False advertising must end!

  3. What!? Next thing you’ll be telling me is that Froot Loops aren’t made from real fruit, and that there’s no nuts in Grape Nuts!

  4. Why that is just… beastly!
    lulz at her attorneys, who had previously represented a client suing Kellogg’s because “Froot Loops” did not contain any real fruit. Frivolous much?

  5. Hopefully someone will alert Janine Sugawara that “dingleberrys” are also not really fruit, before a tragic mistake occurs

  6. I heard that Crunch to stop using his formal title when it was exposed that he never actually served in the military.

  7. I love that she’s suing on behalf of, not just herself, but the “other people” who have been similarly misled.

    Don’t kid yourself, lady, you are an island in this belief system.

  8. It strikes me that she could have argued that it might be genetic manipulation.

    (If there are glowing animals, I don’t see how crunchy berries are such a giant stretch.)

    On the other hand, I doubt she’d be intelligent enough to think of that one, if she didn’t look at the ingredients first.

  9. Typical. First, ‘There’s no Santa Claus.’ Now, ‘There’s no such thing as crunchberries.’ Next we’ll hear that the Hubble telescope pictures are just made up by some guy with a graphics workstation who gobbles acid all day long.

  10. I rule that a reasonable consumer would know “Cap’n Crunch” is not actually food.

  11. I got $20M compensation for there being no apples in Apple Jacks. She’s just copying me. I’m gonna sue her for plagiarism and frivolous lawsuit copyright violation.

  12. Oh no! This is even worse than the day I found out Count Chocula doesn’t actually contain tiny bats.

  13. Huh…

    Is this some sort of new twist on ‘performance art’ aimed at making a statement about our litigious society, sugary false foods, and the idiocy of some people, or she just an absolute scumbag?

  14. Despite all the lulz people get from ripping on them, the legal system and the judiciary specifically are usually pretty grounded in reality.

  15. What a load. It’s all just pop crap. Look at it, show it to your friends, have fun with it. It’s all good.

  16. As a Canadian, I don’t even have the option of having the fictional berry version of my beloved cereal. This makes me feel incredibly deprived, but not so incredibly deprived that I am going to sue over crunchberries. That takes a special kind of dedication to the Cap’n.

  17. Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film, “The Never-Ending Story.”

    Tune in next week as she takes on Post cereal and Grape Nuts.

  18. Is this some sort of new twist on ‘performance art’ aimed at making a statement about our litigious society, sugary false foods, and the idiocy of some people, or she just an absolute scumbag?

    Litigation like this is lawyer-driven. They can find some yahoo to act as the class representative, but the fact is that the suit is for the sole benefit of the law firm. These cases usually end in “coupon settlements” where the lawyers are awarded millions of dollars in fees and the “plaintiffs” are awarded “10% off your next purchase” coupons.

  19. Zuzu – I don’t get the link. I mean, sure, snozzberries are pretty tasty, but, heh?

  20. Unfortunately, everyone must be faulted for permitting this. If a term crunchberries is coined by marketers to advertise a product the meaning should be plain to the consumer, and in this case it is no feat of the imagination to see what an objective observer might expect of the term crunchberries: crunchy berries, which would mean real berries somehow made crunchy either by processing or some growing technique. That most consumers in this society blithely accept nonsensical terms to designate a product may mitigate this silliness somewhat, but to a shopper who speaks plain English and expects words on a box to mean what they suggest it appears that the offense lies with the marketers of the cereal and not with the worldliness of the purchaser. Certainly the judge should reevaluate his assumption that consumers should generally tolerate advertising BS without complaint.

  21. Wait..

    You’re telling me you don’t have a problem with a product, called GrapeNuts, that contains no grapes or no nuts??

    I genuinely see half of this woman’s issue, there is wa-ay too much junk food named after (or with allusions too) natual, healthy food (whatever about GrapeNuts, which isn’t unhealthy).

    Of course I wouldn’t go to court over it, nor tell it in they way she has. If she was serious about this kind of message (as opposed to winning the prize money) she could probably strike up a nice grassroots movement about honesty in food branding.

    But as it is, she just comes off like a greedy dope.

  22. Follow up suit: Lucky Charms are not “magically delicious.” They are merely “delicious.”

  23. Follow up suit: Lucky Charms are not “magically delicious.” They are merely “delicious.”

    However, I was relieved to find that they didn’t contain actual hearts, horseshoes, or celestial bodies like stars and moons. Some clover might have been okay, but I probably would have choked to death on any balloons. I would have been willing, however, to hurt my teeth a little for a pot of gold.

  24. Why that is just… beastly!
    lulz at her attorneys, who had previously represented a client suing Kellogg’s because “Froot Loops” did not contain any real fruit. Frivolous much?

    Don’t be silly. Froot Loops are made from froot.

  25. “Next thing you’ll be telling me is that Froot Loops aren’t made from real fruit…”

    Froot Loops are made from FROOT obviously. Duh.

  26. Cute as the story is, that woman’s lawyer needs to be disbarred. Clearly he’s a criminal.

  27. Lucky Charms were magically delicious before the FDA made them take out the hallucinatory toad juice extract.

    Five pink clovers were enough to have you talking to the magic coyote, if you know what I mean.

  28. I always thought that crunchberries were the Cap’n’s nickname for his testicles.

  29. Its a damn lie my cereal does not cut the roof of your mouth … oh .. shes not saying that … no . no there not actually berries what kind of idiot …

  30. So Fred Flintstone wasn’t really recommending a mineral-based diet for my children? Uh-oh.

  31. @2 Peter: Rick Krispies Squares aren’t squares of Rick Krispies. It’s the name of the band after which the treat was named.

    On the plus side, Froot Loops is made entirely of Froot.

  32. So… that bowl I just had of Rice Chex didn’t really have any Czecks in it, right?

  33. I was expecting there to have already been a “Frankenberry” joke.

    But there isn’t.

    And now I can’t think of one.


  34. @50: Big ol’ Frankenberry’s are what you need if you want to run for a Senate seat in Minnesota this year.

  35. Funny, if ‘berries’ was a trademark then the owner would have sued an won. But since ‘berries’ are real things we should be eating because they’re healthy and natural, the term can be manipulated and maligned, and you are completely on your own if you are naive to the fact –

  36. So, who among you would eat all the crunch first and leave all the berries for last? If you time it right they are just starting to go soft, and you leave just enough milk to keep them afloat.

    And then, you can lose yourself in the marvelous sensation of dozens of milk-soaked crunchberries dissolving in your mouth, releasing their sweet processed juice flavoring to your tastebuds, the artificial scent wafting through your sinuses.

    It is heaven, even if only for a moment.

  37. In the English language, if you create a noun and put a capital letter at the beginning, it can mean anything you want it to mean.

  38. What’s really remarkable is this:

    “The survival of the instant claim would require this Court to ignore all concepts of personal responsibility and common sense. The Court has no intention of allowing that to happen.”

    This is epic! A court has publicly acknowledged the existence of common sense and personal responsibility. Let’s hope this sets a nation-wide precedent.

  39. @#57 snap! (crackle and pop, natch).

    The most amazing part of this report was the idea that common sense and personal responsibility have a place in the US legal system… often (cf the McDonalds hot coffee case) it has seemed that they don’t….

    In the UK the courts have a device known as “the Man on the Clapham Omnibus” who represents a person of normal intelligence and normal attitudes, and stands in for everyman. The test in some cases is “Would it be reasonable to assume that the man on the Clapham Omnibus would think this?”

    In the case of home educators, the application of the Man on the Clapham Omnibus device is whether a parent’s evidence that they are home educating their children – would the Man on the Clapham Omnibus be persuaded by this evidence or not?

    I certainly think the US courts could benefit by the importation of the man on the Clapham Omnibus. I feel sure that he would have expected hot coffee to be hot, and would have known that Crunchberries are not an actual berry. I’m sure the man on the Greyhound Bus would be similarly sensible.

  40. My brother works for Trading Standards (responsible, among other things, for investigating complaints about food safety and misleading advertising). A few years ago, someone came to his office with a packet of that well-known starter dish in Chinese restaurants, crispy seaweed. Since there wasn’t anything obviously wrong with it he asked what the complaint was.

    “It’s not seaweed.”

    My brother patiently explained that ‘crispy seaweed’ is – as was clearly stated on the packet – fried shredded cabbage.

    “I know! So they’re falsely describing it.”

    This chap wanted to see the supermarket that had sold it to him prosecuted, perhaps as a precursor to his campaign to take on the con-artists selling Bombay Duck that was fish, or Toad in the Hole that contained no actual amphibians. Eventually, the TS staff managed to convince him that any case would be laughed out of court, but I have a picture of him still prowling the aisles of Sainbury’s and Tesco looking for food that is not literally as described.

  41. That is about as bright as suing the furniture makers for the extinction of the African Nauga Beast.

    There are no Nauga beast anyware in the world due to the use of their hides as a furniture covering.

  42. There is also a rumor that Captain Crunch may have exaggerated his naval experience.

  43. I don’t think it’s reasonable for an adult to think that crunch berries are real, but this cereal is candy marketed towards kids. I bet there actually are children who eat this and think that crunch berries are good for them because they’re berries.

  44. I was VERY disappointed as a child when my mom let me pick out a box of junk-cereal, and I chose Cookie Crisp. I mean, it was OBVIOUS from the ads that cookie crisp is made of real cookies, right?

    It never occured to me that a lawsuit was an option. I just swore off sugar cereal…..

  45. FEE, you might want to take a closer look at the McDonald’s hot coffee case before repeating the Rush Limbaugh version of what happened.

    Here’s a version closer to truth: McDonald’s distributed training materials to all their restaurants requiring coffee to be served at literally flesh-destroying temperatures. Multiple people were harmed, some permanently scarred – we don’t know how many, really, because some settled privately out of court. We do know that there were hundreds of cases requiring medical treatment, including in some cases skin grafts due to 3rd degree burns. Those cases that did go to court resulted in McDonald’s being ordered to revise their materials and issue new instructions to their restaurants.

    McDonald’s did the “Fight Club Calculation” and determined it was cheaper and easier to pay off maimed customers than to revise their policies, and thus they ignored the court orders. The US court system, functioning exactly as it should in a market based system, then raised the penalties until McDonald’s found it cheaper to stop knowingly harming people than to ignore the courts.

    Incidentally, the rationale for McDonalds serving their coffee in flimsy containers at 185 degrees Fahrenheit was that most people wanted to consume their coffee at home or work, so it had to be hot enough that it would still be palatable after cooling off on the drive home. This excuse was directly contradicted by McDonald’s own research, which showed that most coffee drinkers intended to drink it immediately after purchase.

    See here for more:

    The “McDonalds hot coffee” meme and the “ladder lawyer” meme are intended to reinforce the (factually incorrect) idea that the US court system is out of control, and that Americans are “lawsuit happy”. They are justifications for so-called tort reforms to remove or reduce corporate liability, so that Big Business will be free to maim and abuse people without punishment. In reality, the number of lawsuits per capita in the US has been on a downwards trend for nearly 200 years, and the ability of corporations to spy on, abuse, and even kill individual citizens without punishment is steadily increasing.

    Spread the truth!

  46. #32

    This happened many years ago, but I believe there actually WAS a lawsuit where the plaintiffs alleged false advertising because “grape nuts” contain neither grapes nor nuts.

    The defendant asserted that the term “grape nuts” was an artful descriptor, not a factual one, and in fact the product does have a somewhat nut-like taste.

    Case was tossed out by the judge.

    My problem with Grape nuts isn’t that they don’t contain grapes or nuts, but rather that they taste a lot like a box of cardboard rocks.

  47. I’ve just started my suit against Apple. I bought a bright green Apple Macintosh [sic] because I was hungry. Well, I don’t know what type of variety this apple is, but it’s certainly no McIntosh.

    Now I have internal bleeding.

  48. Fee @58

    You may be correct in stating that concept of “the Man on the Clapham Omnibus” works well in the UK but in the US I’m afraid that it would be adapted as “the man who watches fox news” and we wouldn’t be any better off than we are right now.

  49. Dear Someguy,

    I would think that the U.S. legal system would adapt the MOTCO standard as the IWAKOS (pronounced eye-wackos) standing for Individual Watching A Keith Olbermann Segment.

  50. Many a non-native English speaker has a story about how when she first came to the U.S., she went to the store and bought a can with a pie or fried chicken on the label, then searched through all that fatty white shortening in vain for the promised pastry or poultry.

    When I was a kid, it used to be a funny anecdote that people would tell to laugh at themselves. Not anymore, I guess.

  51. There should be a law that fines these people and their lawyers for wasting tax payer money.

  52. #25 posted by Anonymous, June 4, 2009 1:55 PM

    As a Canadian, I don’t even have the option of having the fictional berry version of my beloved cereal. This makes me feel incredibly deprived, but not so incredibly deprived that I am going to sue over crunchberries. That takes a special kind of dedication to the Cap’n.

    Does this mean there might be a market for smuggling CrunchBerries over the border? I’m thinking canoes across the BWCA in MN. Any one want to be the “Capone of Crunchberries” and finace the whole thing? It worked in revers during Prohibition.

  53. Re: Froot Loops.

    If you read the linked article you’ll see that she and her attorneys have already tried suing the makers of Fruit Loops with the same claims and had lost that one already.

    Read the linked article. The Judge really smacks her down in his decision!

  54. @64, or worse, CNN.

    Or yet worse than that, MSNBC.

    BTW, for the poster of Frankenberries earlier, we don’t want to know where Frank was getting those particular berries. (Get it? Frank ‘n Berries?) Ugh.

  55. I’m still pissed off about the dissappearence of Quake, though I hear Quisp is still around somewhere.

  56. Part of her litigation also included a demotion from Captain to Lieutenant(Junior Grade) Crunch.

  57. I’d like to join Wednesday Addams in a lawsuit against the Girl Scouts.

    According to the list of ingredients, Girl Scout Cookies don’t contain ANY Girl Scout. False Advertising!

  58. We should just sue them for selling this kind of crap to feed children. They are poisoning the nation.

  59. Whatever happened to “natural selection”? There are wayyyyyy too many stupid people in the world.

  60. I was trying to work out something funny about Pop-Tarts and Paris Hilton, but that’s as far as I got.

  61. #65: Thank you so much. Correcting people’s misconceptions about the McDonalds case is a personal crusade of mine.

    #58: We do have an equivalent in the American legal system — it’s called the “reasonable person” standard. It is used in all sorts of contexts and particularly in tort law. We just don’t give it a cutesy name like you Brits :)

  62. “I certainly think the US courts could benefit by the importation of the man on the Clapham Omnibus”

    Once, we did- supposedly we still do: the Reasonable Man. He still featured largely in my6 law school education.

    Unfortunately the Reasonable Man has retired- pensioned off and presumably living in a Pompano Beach condo. He has been replaced by the Utter Moron. Unfortunately, as Mark Twain observed, “you can never make anything completely foolproff, because fools are so ingenious.” Not to mention trial lawyers.

    As well, of course, as their enablers like “Anonymous” who is trying to justify the appalling McDonald’s Coffee case ofn some sort of Naderite ‘fight the power’ grounds. Here’s a clue, Mr Anonymous- the Reasonable Man would know, even if the Utter moron does not, the *coffee is hot.* It’s about people taking responsibility for their own stupidity. It’s also about an out of control tort-law system which has become little more than a jackpot lottery, dressed up in bogus populist trappings. It’s piffle like yours, Mr Anonymous, which is responsible for user manuals 2/3 of which are lawyer-generated warnings, for products festooned with labels (in two languages) helpfully cautioning us not to stick our hands under t5he lawnmower.

    And yet you justify this absolut rubbish by maundering on about ‘justice’ and curbing ‘evil corporations’- when all it is is milking the productive sector. You, sir, are an advocate for parasites.

    But therein lies an aspect of the UK’s legal system we really *could* adopt- the principle that the loser pays both sides’ attorney’s fees. The entire ambulance-chaser racket would collapse overnight, and take the pernicious ‘lawyer tax’ on the economy with it.

  63. who knew? Olallieberries are real and crunchberries aren’t! Yes virginia, there is an olallieberry.

  64. See now I thought Crunchberries was a skateboard stunt that follows grinding. Funny? Yes. Painful? Yes.

  65. wow, #89, your anger is stunning. good luck out there — I have a feeling your blood pressure is through the roof, not to mention your propensity to road rage or punch a girl scout in the face if she’s out of thin mints. deep, calming breaths may help!

  66. I personally am disappointed that Brazil Nuts predominately do not contain any Brazil. (The majority of them actually come form Bolivia.)

  67. People are stupid. That’s the only reason the right was able to sell the McDonald’s Coffee case as an example of Tort Law Gone Wrong.

    Do even minimal research and you will discover that McDonalds richly deserved to be penalized. They were heating their coffee to a MUCH hotter temperature than normal “hot coffee,” partly to disguise its foul taste and partly to keep people from taking advantage of the “free refill” policy then in effect; they had been warned repeatedly that the coffee was dangerously hot; there had been other injuries.

    But to the right, facts are the enemy of Truth—the Truth they know already, and therefore don’t need to study or learn. Their hearts are flint and their bowels are cork; what Don Quixote didn’t realize is that their heads are bone.

  68. reply to #95

    In case you actually like “facts”. Everyone serves their coffee at 185 degrees. Read about the recommended temps. Less acid, best flavor…

    But go on your left wingloon rant, mr. fact.

  69. I was emotionally scarred for life when I found out, in the middle of a race at a county fair, at age 5, that fruity pebbles did NOT make you run fast. That loss has been seared, SEARED I SAY into my psyche and 40 years later still haunts me. Just need to finish my JD and then I’ll be RICH!!!!!!!!!

  70. Pop Tarts – used to love those. Eat them for breakfast or snacks all the time until…
    I popped two into the toaster, turned my back on it and was discussing the weather with a friends, when I turned back around to see my kitchen going on fire! The two pop tarts popped up at that instant, with 4 foot flames. Pulled the plug and it was the only time I have ever had to use a fire extingisher (what a mess!). Last time I ever bought Pop Tarts. I always wonder if GM could use those as an alternative fuel supply for a new car design.

  71. How could this woman litigant be part of a ‘grass roots’ movement as she is neither a member of the grass family nor does she have roots like a plant. Talk about false advertising. Perhaps conservatives should sue liberal grass roots organizations for false phylum advertising?

  72. Post #25 and #75

    I’m willing to run the Great Lakes Market crossing. I think we have enough demand to get a Submarine. I hear you can get a used diesel for around half a million!

  73. #100 posted by Anonymous, June 8, 2009 7:03 AM

    Post #25 and #75

    I’m willing to run the Great Lakes Market crossing. I think we have enough demand to get a Submarine. I hear you can get a used diesel for around half a million!

    Can it be yellow and can we us it to find the sea of holes?

    “Oh look a school of whales”

    “They look a little od for school”

    “University of Wales Then”

  74. What gave it away, really? Can we hear the phone call she made to her friends? “Girl! Did you know crunchberries are not real fruit!?” “Uhm…-click-“

  75. GIRL SCOUT: “Is your lemonade made from real lemons?”
    WEDNESDAY: “Are your Girl Scout cookies made from real Girl Scouts?”
    -“The Addams Family” movie, 1991

    Who to smack first? The woman who filed this asinine suit, or the Lionel Hutz lawyer who took it.

  76. With all the important causes in this world. Hunger, famine, war, homelessness and all sorts of issues. Our judicial system is being used for these completely idiotic issues. Imagine if Bush addressed the nation about crunchberries not having fruit 8 hours after 9 11? Well there may not be an attack on our country but our courts should be used for our societal issues. Not cuz ur soooo stupid that you think crunchberries are real. NOtICE… these kinds of cases are most prevalent in a harsh economy. So just take more taxpayer money and spend it on dumb crap. WE the taxpayers should sue her to make her pay the salary time of that judge and staff who had to process and spend time on that case. And also any taxes that were spent over the cost. So 2x the cost. Then for community service. She can go schools and tell kids how stupid she is and explain why she was wrong to abuse our judicial system. Then be fined to purchase $5,000 in crunchberries cereal and donate the food to underpriveledged children. LADY you are an IDIOT!!

  77. I think Sugar Frosted Flakes or ok not Grrrreat!Can I sue for false advertising.What do you think?Do I have a case? Her nickname from now on should be crunchberries.

  78. Now when we read the box and it says:
    ‘Does not contain actual crunchberries’
    Kind of like a container of peanuts that reads ‘contains nuts’

    we’ll all know where it came from…sigh

  79. Speaking of disclaimers, I think that all Kashi cereals should have one. “May cause gastrointestinal distress which may result in flatulence.” A real “Good Friend” would never do something like that.

  80. Oh dear, does this mean the new Mini Sirloin Burgers at Jack-in-the-Box really aren’t from Cows the size of Schnauzers???

    I am sssooo disappointed…but Happy Star is, er, well, happy!

  81. I agree here with a lot of what has been said. I also agree that this woman should have read the ingredient list. If I had been the judge, or the person representing Captian Crunch, I would have asked her if she had ever read the ingredient list. If she had, I would have told her she sould have known that the closest thing to fruit in the cereal was strawberry concentrate. If she had not,I am not so sure, except that I would say that it would have been wise of her to do so when she first thought the cruch berries were real. As did this judge, I would have thown it out of court. I might also have added that if crunch berries had been real that it should have been possible to get them at the grocery store since its made in the usa. Not sure if this was updated since the lawsuit, but when I googled the cereal I found their website and they call crunch berries fruit flavoured berry shapes. Had she only read this when she started eating this serial she wouldn’t have had to waste her money on something like this!

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