Fireball Cinnamon fans be warned: The mini bottles of the fiery drink you’re picking up at the convenience store don’t actually contain whiskey.
In fact, the drink is a whiskey-flavored malt beverage, much to the dismay of Anna Marquez, the Illinois woman who is suing the Sazerac Company, the maker of Fireball, for “misleading” packaging.
The class action lawsuit, which was filed by Marquez earlier this month, alleges that the labels on the small 99-cent bottles of Fireball Cinnamon appear deceptively similar to the labels on the bottles of his other product, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.
Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey is 33% abv, while Fireball Cinnamon is 16.5% abv, according to the company’s website.
Customers “expecting those small bottles labeled ‘Fireball Cinnamon’ to contain whiskey ‘was an easy mistake to make, and one intended by the manufacturer,'” the lawsuit reads. ‘In fact, what consumers were buying at non-liquor stores'[was] no whiskey at all’ even though the[ir] the labels are almost identical.”
The lawsuit alleges that while it is legal for the company to use the trademark “Fireball” for both drinks, federal and state law prohibit creating a general “misleading impression.”
In addition to similar labels, the lawsuit complains about the size of the text on Fireball Cinnamon’s label that describes its composition. The claim alleges that the phrase “Malt Beverage with Natural Whiskey and Other Caramel Flavors and Color” is written in the “smallest size permitted.”
The use of the phrase “natural whiskey” creates misunderstandings about the product, the lawsuit also claims.
“Using the words ‘With Plain Whiskey and Other Flavors’ is a clever twist on phrase because consumers who make an effort to read this will see how ‘Plain Whisky’ is distinct from ‘Other Flavors,'” the lawsuit states.
Customers “will think the Product is a malt beverage with (1) added natural whiskey and (2) other flavors,” it added.
In other words, buyers may believe that natural whiskey is added to the drink as a separate ingredient, instead of understanding that only “whiskey flavors” are added.
On the Fireball website, the company explains the difference between its whiskey and malt products.
“There are 2 key differences between the Fireball Cinnamon labels and the Fireball Whiskey label: Any pack with Fireball ‘Cinnamon Whiskey’ on the front label is our whiskey-based product,” the site explains. “Any product with Fireball ‘Cinnamon’ on the front label, without ‘Whisky’, is our malt-based or wine-based product.”
The lawsuit, though brought solely by Marquez, seeks to cover anyone in Illinois, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, Iowa, South Carolina, Kansas, Arkansas and Utah who has purchased Fireball Cinnamon.