Thursday, October 3, 2019

Baudelaire v. Big Tuna

Hey guys. Current events are kind of a crapstorm right now. So how about I tell you a crazy little delightful tale that won't make your head hurt?

You feel better already, don't you?


That's what I'm here for.

OK, so a while back there was a class-action lawsuit against Starkist Tuna. The charge was that they had been, systematically and with malice aforethought...underfilling five-ounce cans of tuna. Clearly this malfeasance could not stand, and the people cried out for redress. So they sued, because JUSTICE FOR LOVERS OF CANNED FISH.

Socking it to Big Tuna, oh yeah.
I joined that lawsuit. Hell yes. Of course I eat canned tuna; I'm a white middle-aged suburban mom. What, do you think I'm poaching salmon filets on the regular? Pfft. Canned tuna is my spirit fish, and Starkist is my brand of choice. And having been traumatized by receiving a few grams of tuna less than I had paid for, I demanded my day in court. Or a protracted mediation on my behalf by anonymous lawyers that would require absolutely no effort on my part. All I had to do to be part of the class action was fill out an online "claim." That's the kind of search for justice I can get behind.

I was promised that, if we successfully took down Starkist, my fish-deprived co-plaintiffs and I would receive 25 dollars in cash or FIFTY CANS OF TUNA.

I can't really explain it, but the idea of 50 free cans of tuna absolutely tickled me. That's a crapton of Starkist, folks. That's, like, at least a year's worth, or more if I discipline myself and don't celebrate Tuna Mac Tuesday every single week. Who has 50 cans of tuna in their home besides doomsday preppers and people who need to seek help for their Costco addiction?

I feel there may be some overlap between those groups.
I wanted my 50 cans of tuna, dammit. So I filled out the online form and then put it out of my mind. I didn't want to obsess over it. The wheels of justice turn slowly, I knew, and I was just asking for tuna-induced neurosis if I let the lawsuit consume my thoughts. I have plenty of other neuroses that I have no control over, thank you very much. I vowed to let things run their course without my constant vigilance and moved on.

As time went on, I occasionally wondered what was happening with the Great Starkist Legal Battle. Sometimes, when I grabbed a can of tuna from my pantry, I would spare a thought for the long-promised reward of tuna bounty. And I have to admit, at some point I figured that the suit must have been lost, or the awarding of many cans of tuna had been negotiated away. Disappointing, but I've been disappointed before. I could survive being deprived of justice and FIFTY CANS OF TUNA.

Flash-forward to today. I checked my mail, and there it was:

I was a little bummed that it wasn't a certified letter,
or delivered by Steve Harvey, or something.
The lawsuit had been settled at last! We had been victorious! We had triumphed over Big Tuna! We had been awarded...

...five dollars' worth of tuna.

Sorry, five dollars and three cents, bitches.

Turns out that 2.5 million tuna-loving opportunists had joined the class-action lawsuit, about 12 times what Starkist had calculated when they promised FIFTY CANS OF TUNA. Eh. Victory is victory. Free tuna is free tuna. Piscis piscis est.

Do you want to know how long I waited to get my coupon for $5.03 worth of Starkist tuna?

I remember exactly when I signed on to the lawsuit. I remember because when I had to enter my address, it was one of the first times - if not the first time - that I used the address of my current apartment instead of my former house. Precocious Daughter and I hadn't even moved out yet, but I knew that we'd be living there by the time they needed our address to make good on our FIFTY CANS OF TUNA. Which I apparently believed they'd deliver on a pallet via forklift.

Where do you want your tuna, lady?
We moved into our apartment four years ago tomorrow.

I almost wept with laughter when I saw that freaking postcard. It felt good. It somehow felt like the best payoff possible for all the hard work of the last four years.

Probably I can buy five or six cans of tuna with $5.03. I'll split them with PDaughter. She - who was a sophomore in high school when Baudelaire v. Big Tuna began - can eat them in her college apartment. I'm pretty sure she owns a can opener. If not, I'll buy her one. I can afford it. After all, I just won a lawsuit.

Not sorry, Charlie.


You can read about the lawsuit and settlement here.


  1. Why do you grab cans? Why not pick them up gently?

  2. I'm glad PDaughter owns a can opener, but you can now get cans of tuna with a pull off top, so can openers are yet another industry grumpy old people can claim millenials have killed.
    Meanwhile I can't stop imagining Charlie, played by Steve Martin, hunched over a desk writing yet another postcard and muttering, "To Chuck Baudelaire...five dollars AND THREE CENTS."

  3. I'm more of a pouch girl, but hey - all good. Now, my bigger concern with Big Tuna was the incident where the employee got "accidentally" locked in the giant tuna cooking apparatus, and got steamed to death.

    It put me off tuna for awhile. And cannibalism.


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