how Paw Patrol snacks ended up linking to porn

on August 22, 2023, Lidl UK announced a recall on four varieties of children's snack foods branded with Paw Patrol characters, because they contained a link to a pornographic website on their packaging. this notice then went somewhat viral about a week later — probably because it involved porn — with many wondering how such a thing could ever happen.

upon going to the URL found on the packaging of the snack foods ( you'll find links to Chinese pornography, which is, notably, not related to Paw Patrol nor snack foods.

a screenshot of the website, with mostly chinese text. the pornography has been blacked out.

according tho WHOIS data, the URL was registered on February 5th, 2023, to an individual in China. given that the company that made these snacks is from the UK, and has existed since before the year 2023, we can likely assume this is not someone who is tied to the company in any way.

archived copies of the site on the Wayback Machine shows the site had rather normal and boring contents from 2016 to 2022, as you would expect for a food manufacturer's website.

a screenshot of the website. it features food products that feature licensed brands.

most notably, the company Appy Food and Drinks Limited was dissolved on 22 June 2022, a full 8 months before the new domain registration. it seems that the corporation started going on rough times in 2019, liquidated their assets, and fully shut down by 2022. the snacks, being sold at the discount retailer Lidl, were likely part of the liquidated assets.

a likely explanation is that when the domain name expired in early 2023, since the company had already shut down fully, nobody cared to renew it. someone else then bought the domain, and slapped ads on it to get money from the mistaken traffic. eventually, they settled on pornographic ads, as those had the highest payout. as to why it took months for anyone to notice, well… when's the last time you went to the website listed on a bag of cookies?

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