Ghiradelli brand Milk Chocolate Caramel.
Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald/

San Diego County resident Joseph Brungard is bitter with Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. Brungard sued the iconic Bay Area chocolatier Thursday claiming that packages of Ghirardelli’s individually-wrapped, single-serving chocolate squares routinely contain fewer pieces than advertised. “Ghirardelli enjoys revenues of up to $500 million annually—likely in part from the money it saves by omitting chocolates from its packages,” wrote Brungard’s lawyer, Craig Nicholas of Nicholas & Tomasevic.

Nicholas opened the complaint with famous line from Forest Gump’s mother about a life being like a box of chocolates: “You never know what you’re going to get.”

“With Ghirardelli, this could not be truer,” Nicholas wrote.

According to the complaint, Brungard has bought Ghirardelli’s chocolate squares for years, which come in flavors such as milk chocolate caramel, dark chocolate sea salt, and intense dark chocolate 86 percent cacao. But after he noticed several bags he purchased contained one fewer square than listed on the packaging, he reached out to the company by telephone.

Brungard claims that he was unsatisfied when told by a company representative that the package listings weren’t problematic since they were based on weight rather than servings per container. He says he was told a manager would reach out to him to discuss his concerns, but that never happened.

“Based on defendant’s misrepresentations, plaintiff purchased multiple packages of Defendant’s chocolate squares, only to discover that the true count repeatedly differed and was one chocolate square short of the number stated on the exterior of the package,” wrote Nicholas in Thursday’s complaint. “Plaintiff would not have made his purchase but for these misrepresentations.”

The lawsuit seeks to certify both a nationwide class and California subclass to pursue claims under consumer protection laws. Neither Nicholas nor company representatives responded to requests for comment Friday.