A Wellington couple saw red when their nine-year-old son came home clutching a pen in the shape of a bloody syringe.
Joel Crampton was given the Hell Pizza pen as a prize at Upper Hutt's H2O Xtream pool. On the side was written "Hell, creating addicts since 1996".
The pen, complete with a plunger and fake blood, was appalling, Joel's mum Mary Crampton said.
"It's a shocker of a prize. It looks like it's full of blood. I was completely shocked. They must think drug taking is cool."
Joel's father, Dave Crampton, said he was surprised the syringe-shaped pen was given out to a child.
"I can see the funny side, it is quite clever, but I don't think he'll be taking the pen to class when school starts next week."
Upper Hutt City Council recreation services manager Mike Ryan said the pens were part of a sponsorship deal with Hell Pizza.
"As a parent I can appreciate that it was not appropriate to give them away to children. It's good that we were made aware of it."
No more pens would be given out, he said.
Hell Pizza director Callum Davies said the pens were not supposed to be given out to children. "I would like to know how it happened."
The company has courted public controversy on numerous occasions, including an incident in 2006 when condoms mailed out to promote its Lust meat pizza attracted a record 685 complaints.
SINS OF HELL
2011: Hell Pizza apologises after making a "misfortune" cookie with a piece of paper inside reading: "You will marry a transgender."
2011: A billboard featuring a bun decorated with the words: "For a limited time. A bit like Jesus" attracts 179 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.
2009: A Hell billboard carries the phrase "At least our brownie won't eat your pet dog" – a reference to Tongan Paea Taufa roasting a pit bull terrier-cross in an umu at his Mangere home.
2008: Hell began a "$25 Hot as Hell" direct mail ad, which promised a Thai massage with a pizza, if the offer was redeemed in Thailand on the day of purchase.
2006: "Lust Pizza" mailout is the most controversial ad in ASA history, attracting 685 complaints after condoms were sent to random letterboxes.
- The Dominion Post
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