NEW YORK — Chocolate buffs are clamoring for the Hershey Co. to “gimme a break” after the chocolate manufacturer reached a settlement with an importer to stop distributing British-made candy bars. Let’s Buy British Imports, one of the nation’s top distributors of popular food brands from the UK, South Africa and Australia, agreed last week to stop selling confections like Maltesers and Toffee Crisps to stateside retail outlets and restaurants.
Hershey, which was established in 1894, has more than 80 brands worldwide, including brands like Reese’s and York. Hershey initially filed the lawsuit in August, citing trademark infringement because some British candies have similar packaging to a Hershey product and thus could be “misleading” to the consumer.
“Given the immeasurable value of our brands, we work hard to protect these important intellectual assets and defend them against infringement,” said Jeff Beckman, a Hershey spokesman.
The owners of Tea & Sympathy, a New York shop that stocks UK goods, aren’t buying it — even urging fans to contact Hershey’s CEO about the matter.
“May we politely suggest that if you think Toffee Crisps look like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups your eyesight is a much bigger problem than your chocolate bar confusion,” the shop wrote on its Facebook page.
Many chocolate lovers have taken to social media to share a similar sentiment, some even calling for drastic action with the hashtag #BoycottHershey.
Hershey holds the license to manufacture Cadbury chocolate products in the U.S., so the import ban also includes UK-made Cadbury and Kit Kat products, which are made differently in the United States than across the pond.
To qualify as milk chocolate by UK law, a product must contain at least 20 percent cocoa and milk solids and at least 25 percent fat. In the U.S., the required percentage in both is less.
At the time of publishing, close to 15,000 people have also signed a petition against the ban.