Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- A brownie that's marketed to help you relax and fall asleep is getting a wake-up call from the Food & Drug Administration.
Sold in New Orleans under the brand name "Lazy Larry," the product uses a natural sleep aid called melatonin to work effectively.
"They have a lovely little picture of a relaxed little man," said Katherine Madere while examining the colorful packaging with a Sponge Bob-looking character front and center.
A list of ingredients on the packaging include sugar, flour, oil, cocoa, egg, salt along with melatonin.
"I have no idea what it is?" Ryan said, referencing the melatonin. "I've never seen it before."
On store shelves since late 2010, "Lazy Cakes," now called "Lazy Larry," are marketed according to a press release as "the chocolate alternative to medication and narcotics that can help you relax and fall asleep."
"The FDA has very recently come down and [issued] a warning to the makers of 'Lazy Cakes,' now 'Lazy Larry' that they're touting them incorrectly," said Dr. Kim Edward LeBlanc with LSU's Health Sciences Center School of Medicine.
LeBlanc said the "Lazy Larry" relaxation brownie product is breaking federal regulations.
"The melatonin that they're putting in these brownies and cakes is a food additive; because of that it runs afoul of FDA law. You can have melatonin in a tablet form, which is a supplement, which is okay. But when you add it to a food that changes the whole equation," LeBlanc said.
The FDA recently wrote a letter to HBB, LLC, the Memphis-based company behind the brownie saying: "Melatonin is not approved for use in any food, including brownies. Therefore, your 'Lazy Larry' product is adulterated."
To read the letter, click here. "I'm very surprised that a manufacturer would really show a disregard for what is safe," LeBlanc said. Knowing that the product could potentially get into her young son's hands is concerning to Katherine Madere.
"There should probably be a big yellow label that says this is not for kids," said Madere.
However, the packaging does come with warnings saying not suitable for kids, and that consumers should not drive or operate heavy machinery after eating the relaxation brownie.
As the "Lake Cake" Facebook fan page inches closer to 45,000 followers, some wonder why?
"That to me is definitely a little over the top. Just like with those bath salt things. How is this all getting into our markets? I don't understand it," said Madere.
The FDA has given the makers of "Lazy Larry" a deadline to change the brownie's recipe. It is not illegal to eat the brownie.
WWL-TV tried contacting HBB, LLC for comment but could not reach a company spokesperson in time for Tuesday night's newscast.