NY man sues King’s Hawaiian for not making sweet rolls in Hawaii

HONOLULU — King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls are not authentically Hawaiian anymore, according to a lawsuit.

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A New York man filed a class-action suit in Manhattan federal court, alleging that the maker of the popular baked products has defrauded customers by misleading them into believing the rolls are still being made in Hawaii. The suit was filed by Robert Galinsky of Yonkers, New York, Hawaii News Now reported.

According to its website, King’s Hawaiian was started in the 1950s, when Robert Taira first opened the business in Hilo. The business moved to Honolulu in 1960s and in 1977 opened a 24,000-square-foot bakery in Torrance, California.

In the lawsuit, Galinsky acknowledges that the back label of the rolls notes that the product is made in California. He also conceded that King’s Hawaiian “is the leading seller of Hawaiian rolls and essentially invented this category of food.”

However, Galinsky alleges that the front packaging, which prominently features “Hilo, Hawaii,” is misleading.

“For many consumers, ‘authenticity has overtaken quality as the prevailing purchasing criterion,’” Galinsky’s lawsuit alleges. “Reasonable consumers understand that the term ‘Hawaiian Rolls’ by itself, does not denote a roll made in Hawaii any more than a ‘Moon Pie’ can claim to have been baked on the moon.”

The lawsuit also conceded that several other food companies, including Sara Lee and Pillsbury, have packaged and marketed products that were named “Hawaiian sweet rolls.”

Galinsky alleges that King’s Hawaiian’s “fraudulent intent is evinced by its failure to accurately identify the product’s immediate place of origin -- where it’s made -- as opposed to where the company is originally from -- when it knew doing so would mislead consumers.”

This is not the first time a company is facing a lawsuit over Hawaii origins, Hawaii News Now reported. Kona Brewing and Hawaiian Host have also been sued for similar reasons, the website reported.

According to the Top Class Actions website, the makers of Hawaiian Host candies have been sued over alleged misleading claims on their boxes of chocolates. Plaintiffs filed the class-action lawsuit in November, according to Top Class Actions.

The lawsuit seeks to have King’s Hawaiian change its label, as well as collect unspecified damages.

Representatives for King’s Hawaiian have not responded to a request for comment, Hawaii News Now reported.