One Star, Should Be Free

Goodness, gracious, bad balls of fire.

As an intelligent and fresh-smelling reader of this site, you’re surely wise enough to know that selling two different products with nearly identical packaging is a terrible business practice. Alas, the executives at the Sazerac Company are not so sagacious. As a result, the company is now facing a lawsuit for deceptive labeling. Here’s why:

Two distinct products, in virtually identical packaging
Left: “Fireball Whisky”; Right: “Fireball Cinnamon” malt beverage
[Composite image created using this source material]

Once you realize that two different products are shown above, it’s easy to understand why the company has been sued. Sazerac had a desire to garner sales from stores that aren’t permitted to sell whisky but can sell beer, malt beverages, and wine. That led them to create a knock-off beverage, which is understandable. Copying the existing product’s label so completely, however, is indefensible. Undoubtedly, they wanted to capitalize on existing brand familiarity, but this was a sure-fire(ball) way to confuse people.1

If your FAQ needs to include the following text, you should probably reconsider some things:

How Can I Tell the Difference Between Fireball Cinnamon and Fireball Whisky Products?

There are 2 key differences between the Fireball Cinnamon labels vs the Fireball Whisky label:

• Any package with Fireball ‘Cinnamon Whisky’ on the front label is our whisky-based product

• Any product with Fireball ‘Cinnamon’ on the front label, without ‘Whisky’, is either our malt-based or wine-based product

Also, that’s really just a single difference. The package includes the word “Whisky” or it does not. Everything else is virtually identical, and thus eminently confusing.

This feels like something the government might be interested in preventing. Heck, long-time readers may remember that labels on beer are heavily regulated. Is there no Battle Martin of booze bottles?

Apparently not, and thus a class-action filing with the court system is being used to try to right this wrong. Though I suspect it will lead Sazerac to change their packaging, the lawsuit in question is nonetheless difficult to take seriously. It includes several laughable claims from lead plaintiff Anne Marquez, who mistakingly purchased Fireball Cinnamon instead of Fireball Whisky. Purportedly, Marquez “expected the Product would contain distilled spirits in a non-de minimis or non-negligible amount”. I think when it comes down to it, she expected only that the product would taste like cinnamon and get her drunk. I’m certain both of the products shown above could manage that.2

The lawsuit also includes the ridiculous assertion that 99¢ is overpriced for the non-whisky “Fireball Cinnamon” product. It’s difficult to accept the notion that anything that costs less than a buck can be called “overpriced” in 2023, but they’re making that claim with an ostensibly straight face. As a result, the folks who brought this suit sound quite a bit like the misguided whiners complaining about prices on Apple’s App Store. The plaintiffs may want to reconsider some things as well.


  1. I’m sorry about this dumb joke, but not so sorry that I removed it. ↩︎

  2. That said, it should be noted that the non-whisky versions are lower proof than the original. Malt-based Fireball Cinnamon is only 16.5% alcohol and another wine-based Fireball Cinnamon is 21% alcohol. The original Fireball is more powerful, with 33% alcohol. ↩︎