Brand Truth: Toxic Waste Nuclear Sludge Candy Bars Aren’t Nuclear, Are Toxic

As truth in advertising goes, you can file this one under ‘unfortunate.’

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingLast Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration issued a press release warning about unacceptable levels of lead in Toxic Waste® brand Nuclear Sludge® cherry flavored Chew Bars. After the California Department of Public Health pegged the candy’s lead levels at 0.24 parts per million–more than twice the FDA tolerance of 0.1 ppm–the parent company Candy Dynamics voluntarily recalled all flavors from all lots distributed since its 2007 introduction (evidently, a food product called “Toxic Waste® brand Nuclear Sludge®” can assume a shelf life approaching four years).

Interestingly, both Candy Dynamics and Circle City Marketing and Distributing–the company responsible for actually producing the candy–operate out of Indianapolis. But the bar manufacturing is outsourced to Pakistan, the source of the lead contamination. Perhaps that third world production line moonlights creating low end batteries for knock off Tickle Me Elmos; whatever the explanation, the company valued cost efficiencies over quality control up until the moment they had no choice.

As anyone who’s ever been a cash strapped kid knows, there will always be a market for cheap candy, so perhaps Candy Dynamics and Circle City won’t be terribly hurt by this particular PR nightmare.  Then again, like some king-sized chocolate irony candy bar. their memorable brand name makes this story just too tasty not to share.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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