New Zealand is currently caught in the grips of a “pineapple lump scandal” after a popular confectionary brand was “exposed” for buying the item in bulk and passing it off as “handmade”.
The chocolate-coated lollies, which contain a chewy pineapple flavoured centre, are an iconic symbol of Kiwi life – and competition over what brand reigns supreme is fierce.
Boutique chocolatier Potter Brothers Pineapple Chews, which retail for $5.99 (about $A5.59), were recently crowned the best in a competitive taste test.
Judges at The Spin Off were so impressed with the “knock off Pineapple Lumps” they described them as a “surprise underdog” and knocked long-running leader Pascall Pineapple Lumps, which cost $3.50 in Australia, into second place.
But after Potter Brothers took out the number one spot, local resident Courtnay Adele – a finalist on The Great Kiwi Bake Off – decided to “expose” the artisan chocolate brand.
You see, she had discovered two years earlier that Potter Brothers, who claimed its products were “handmade”, were actually buying the pineapple pieces in bulk and recoating them.
She’d shared a video at the time, explaining she is one of “those people who bites off all the chocolate around the outside”, and when doing so she accidentally uncovered a second layer of chocolate – but nothing came of it.
“After Potter Brothers were ranked at number one, I went and got a new bag to see if they were still doing the same thing I had discovered years earlier, Courtnay told news.com.au.
“The bag I got was definitely still recoated pineapple lumps, so I commented on the original story and it started getting some traction.”
With fresh interest, Courtnay decided it was time to share her findings again, this time posting her original video to TikTok where it quickly blew up.
“I have an issue with these pineapple pieces,” she explained in a video titled: “Potter Brothers exposed.”
After pouring a few out of the bag and biting off some of the chocolate, she holds a piece up to the camera.
“Can you see that? How there’s like a layer of chocolate over another later of chocolate,” she asked.
“No way, there cannot be just like a normal pineapple lump, that this company has just covered with their own chocolate.
“How dare they do this to our national lolly.”
The video goes on to show the first layer of chocolate removed, with a visibly darker chocolate underneath, tightly coating the pineapple chew.
“The bottom has that hatched kind of texture, like it was made in a big old factory,” she continued.
People were “outraged” by Courtnay’s findings, with Kiwi’s raging they’d “wasted money” as others from around the world declared they were “invested” in the saga.
“That’s definitely a [Pascall] pineapple lump, wow. Shocked,” one wrote.
“I don’t even eat pineapple lumps but now I have an issue with them too!! Potter Brothers better answer some questions,” another declared.
“They didn’t even colour match the chocolate to try and blend it in,” someone else lamented.
As the video gained traction, Courtnay shared a follow-up video stating the issue was in the way the company were marketing their products.
“This says ‘handmade in New Zealand’,” she states, showing the front of the packet.
“On the back it talks about ‘two brothers who decided to turn a family recipe into delicious chocolates genuinely handcrafted right here in New Zealand.”
Courtnay shared a series of screenshots from a conversation she had with the brand on Facebook back in 2020, asking if the pineapple chews were “store bought then covered in chocolate”, but she was unable to get a straight answer back.
However, the uproar on TikTok was spotted by local TV station 1News, prompting Potter Brothers to issue a statement admitting to covering mass produced lollies and selling them as handmade.
“When we started, we were young, excitable and naive, and didn’t consider how the use of some words in our content may not be appropriate,” the statement reads, according to Stuff.co.nz.
“We stress that this was not intentional and these are learnings that have been taken to heart in recent times.”
The brothers, Kyle and Jake Potter, claimed the company now makes its core ingredients, like pineapple nougat, in-house at their factory in Levin, on New Zealand’s North Island “using a hands-on process”.
Despite making a changes to the wording on its website, NZ’s Commerce Commission has received multiple complaints which “allege the company has made misleading claims about its products”.
Courtnay is thrilled to finally have an answer to her question, but admitted she never expected her video to go so viral.
Kiwis are pretty passionate about the Pineapple Lump, so I figured New Zealanders would be interested,” she told news.com.au.
“But I didn’t expect so many international comments – mostly people confused about what a pineapple lump is.
“It was never about the chocolates, it was the way they were marketing their product as premium and handmade.
“I didn’t think that was fair on everyday kiwis who were choosing to spend their hard earned money on that product.”
As for how this will affect Potter Brothers, the commission said it was not yet investigating claim.
“I won’t be buying them again, I’ll stick with the OG pineapple lumps,” Courtnay added. “And if I need a chocolate fix I’ll always go Whittakers.”
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