General Mills, Girl Scouts Go After Makers Of Liquid Nicotine Over Trademarked Names

Though the makers of e-cigarettes say their devices aren’t marketed to children, some companies that make liquid nicotine are not only using candy and fruit flavors that are forbidden from regular tobacco, but they’re using trademarked names of well-known snacks, sweets, and cereals. This isn’t sitting well with the companies that hold those trademarks.

For example, there’s apparently a liquid nicotine flavor called “Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” which just happens to be the name of a popular General Mills brand of cereal. And it’s not exactly an adult-target cereal (though I know way too many adults who eat it on a regular basis).

That’s why General Mills is issuing cease-and-desist orders to nicotine makers that use Cinnamon Toast Crunch or any of its other brands.

“Any use is unauthorized and would constitute an illegal misuse of our marks,” the company said in a statement to the Star Tribune. “General Mills has already sent a cease and desist letter to remove our branding and trademarks from these products – and we will take further action if necessary.”

And the cereal biggie isn’t the only one trying to keep its trademarks off of liquid nicotine. The Girl Scouts are none-too-thrilled about seeing “Thin Mint” being tossed around as a nicotine flavor, especially because of the youngster-friendly image of the Scouts.

“Using the Thin Mint name — which is synonymous with Girl Scouts and everything we do to enrich the lives of girls — to market e-cigarettes to youth is deceitful and shameless,” a rep for the organization told the Tribune.

Tootsie Roll Industries, the makers of cold-rolled steel Tootsie Rolls are also asking nicotine companies to please stop trying to cash in on its candy brand that has been getting stuck in kids’ teeth for over a century.

“We’re family oriented. A lot of kids eat our products, we have many adults also, but our big concern is we have to protect the trademark,” said Ellen Gordon, president and chief operating officer of Tootsie, who is not Dustin Hoffman in a wig. “When you have well-known trademarks, one of your responsibilities is to protect (them) because it’s been such a big investment over the years.”

Lawyers for these companies could be busy for quite some time, with around 1,500 businesses putting out liquid nicotine in the U.S.

“It’s the age-old problem with an emerging market,” explains a board member of the American E-liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (which is an actual thing and not something from a 1957 sci-fi novella). “As companies goes through their maturity process of going from being a wild entrepreneur to starting to establish real corporate ethics and product stewardship, it’s something that we’re going to continue to see.”

And he should know, as his company was slapped on the wrist for selling a “Junior Mint” branded nicotine.