Hershey's Ordered To Pay Obese Americans $135 Billion

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Vol 36 Issue 26

In My Day, Ballplayers Were For Shit

It seems everywhere I go these days, some young fella's jibber-jabbering about how great some ballplayer of today is. It's always Mark McGwire this or Sammy Sosa that. Well, of course they're the best. These modern big leaguers, with their blinding speed, cannon arms, and towering home runs–they've got it all. Back in my day, ballplayers were for shit!

Texas Sheriff Cracks Down On Chicken-On-Chicken Violence

AMARILLO, TX–Determined to break the deadly cycle of chicken-on-chicken violence, Amarillo Sheriff James Braddock is targeting cockfighting activity in the area. "It's always tragic when any chicken is injured or killed," said Braddock after a massive, 45-chicken bust. "But it's doubly tragic when these put-upon creatures turn against their own kind." Braddock said that while law-enforcement officials are making strides, they can only do so much. "Educating these chickens while they're still young is key," he said.

Area Father Takes One More Look At Liner Notes Of Daughter's Britney Spears Album

JEFFERSON CITY, MO–Marv Reynolds, 42, father of 11-year-old Ashley, slipped into his daughter's bedroom for one more look at the liner notes to her Britney Spears album Monday. "Just like to see what my daughter's into these days," said Reynolds, perusing the photo-packed booklet accompanying Spears' Oops!...I Did It Again for the fourth time in as many days. "I bet she'll put this on the moment she gets home from soccer practice in 20 minutes." Upon hearing a car pull into the driveway, Reynolds, who has previously browsed the liner notes to his daughter's Mandy Moore and Christina Aguilera CDs, put the Spears disc back exactly where he found it and left the room.

Clinton To Get Teeth Cleaning, Glasses Before Coverage Runs Out

WASHINGTON, DC–With less than six months remaining in his second term, President Clinton made appointments Monday for dental and optometry check-ups that are covered by his Physicians Plus presidential health plan. "My teeth are fine, but I figured I should take advantage and get a cleaning before I get dropped next January," Clinton said. "And if I get new glasses before then, Physicians Plus will cover the lenses and 60 percent of the cost of frames, so I'd be crazy not to." Clinton said he was worried he was already too late to get in for an eye exam before leaving office, but Dr. Heitman, his designated optometrist, had an opening on Dec. 17 at 8:15 a.m.

15 Years Of Kathie Lee

Last Friday, after 15 years, Kathie Lee Gifford did her final Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee. What have been some of the show's highlights over the years?

The Concorde Crash

On July 25, an Air France Concorde crashed during takeoff near Paris, killing 113 people, including 96 Germans. What do you think of this first-ever crash of the supersonic jet?

Old Folks At Home

Long life is the ardent desire of many. Indeed, some of you may achieve it, as I have. But once you find your-self out-living your pet Galapagos tortoise, you may do well to question your luck.
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Pop Culture

Hershey's Ordered To Pay Obese Americans $135 Billion

HERSHEY, PA–In one of the largest product-liability rulings in U.S. history, the Hershey Foods Corporation was ordered by a Pennsylvania jury Monday to pay $135 billion in restitution fees to 900,000 obese Americans who for years consumed the company's fattening snack foods.

Jury Takes A Bite Out Of Big Chocolate

"Let this verdict send a clear message to Big Chocolate," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Andrew Garsten, addressing reporters following the historic ruling. "If you knowingly sell products that cause obesity, you will pay."

The five-state class-action suit accused Hershey's of "knowingly and willfully marketing rich, fatty candy bars containing chocolate and other ingredients of negligible nutritional value." The company was also charged with publishing nutritional information only under pressure from the government, marketing products to children, and artificially "spiking" their products with such substances as peanuts, crisped rice, and caramel to increase consumer appeal.

Jurors took less than five hours to reach the decision following a two-year trial covering nearly one million snackers in Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Texas. A majority of the unprecedented punitive damages will go toward obesity victims and their immediate families. The remainder will be funneled into weight-loss and youth-snacking prevention programs.

"This is a vindication for myself and all chocolate victims," said Beaumont, TX, resident Earl Hoffler, holding a picture of his wife Emily, who in 1998 succumbed to obesity after nearly 40 years of chocoholism. "This award cannot bring Emily back, but I take some comfort knowing that her tragic, unnecessary death did not go unpunished."

Lawyers for the Hershey Corporation announce plans to appeal the court's decision.

Hoffler's teary-eyed account of his wife's brave battle against chocolate was widely regarded as the emotional high point of the trial. First introduced to Hershey's chocolate as a young trick-or-treater, Emily quickly developed a four-bar-a-day habit, turning in adulthood to Hershey's Special Dark, a stronger, unfiltered form of the product. By age 47, she had ballooned to 352 pounds and was a full-blown chocoholic. What little savings the family had was drained by Weight Watchers memberships, Richard Simmons videotapes, and Fat Trapper pills, all of which proved futile and only prolonged the Tofflers' agonizing ordeal.

Equally pleased by the ruling was Mel Brewer of Phoenix, whose father received free chocolate as a soldier during World War II.

"Dad came back from Europe hooked," Brewer said. "Before long, he was going through a case of Mounds and Mr. Goodbars a week. He wouldn't eat ice cream without Hershey's chocolate syrup and crushed Heath bars on it. He died of a heart attack at age 54 weighing 415 pounds."

Just one of the millions of victims of the chocolate confectionary industry.

With litigation pending against the nation's top five chocolate makers, including a $102 billion Mississippi suit against Nestle, the entire industry is on alert. Big Chocolate has already suffered numerous major setbacks in recent years. In 1997, a California judge ordered chocolate manufacturers to fund $27 billion in education programs to prevent youth chocolate consumption. In 1999, a federal judge prohibited chocolate advertising on TV and billboards and banned the use of cartoon imagery in advertising. In addition, the judge ruled that a warning label must be placed on all chocolate products reading, "The Surgeon General Has Determined That Eating Chocolate May Lead To Being Really Fat."

Lawyers for the Hershey Corporation said the company intends to appeal the decision, which could drive the price of a 1.4-ounce pack of Rolos as high as $1.29.

"Adult consumers know the risks involved in using our products," Hershey's chief counsel Marvin Black said. "They know that if not used in a responsible manner, there can be some negative consequences. But this is true of anything in life. Further, the decision to use our products is one that has always been left up to the individual. The Hershey Corporation has never forced anyone to use its products, nor has it ever intentionally added substances to its candies to increase addictiveness. If consumers are hooked, it is only because of said candy's overwhelmingly delicious chocolate goodness."

Whatever the outcome of the Hershey's appeal, the chocolate industry has irrevocably changed as a result of Monday's verdict.

"For over a century, Hershey's has lived off the fat of the land," Erie, PA, claimant Pamela Schiff said. "Now it's time to pay us back."

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