MIAMI — Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center and a man appearing to represent Osama bin Laden standing between the twin towers were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled.
Lisy Corp., the wholesaler that distributed the candy, said Friday that the toys were purchased in bulk from a Miami-based import company.
The toys came in an assortment purchased sight unseen from L&M Import in Miami and included the toys depicting the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers, whistles and other small toys, said Luis Pedron, Lisy’s national sales manager. The invoice said the toy was a plastic swing set.
“I hate to blame the importer. He probably did not know what he was getting. He brings them in 40-foot containers. But whoever made it knew exactly what they were making,” Pedron said.
Pedron said Lisy did not notice the small plastic figurines until two people complained, but there is no mistaking what the toys represent: At the bottom of each is the product number 9011.
“When we found out what happened, we recalled them immediately,” said Pedron, who said the toys do not reflect the company’s view. “I was offended by them.”
The first news reports about the toys Friday mentioned only the airplane version. But WFTV, a Miami television station, on Monday said it found the toy with what appeared to be the al-Qaida leader, fists raised, swinging between the towers.
The company’s 100 distributors sent out the candy bags. Most are sold to small Hispanic and Mexican groceries, Pedron said. He estimated about 90 percent of the bags have been collected.
Anna Rodriguez, who bought a bag of the candy for her grandson, said she was stunned when she saw the toy.
“It makes me angry,” she told WFTV. “I was offended because I couldn’t believe that someone would give something like that to a kid.”
Pedron said he is saving the toys to return to the distributor.
A woman who answered the telephone at L&M and refused to give her name said Friday she did not know anything about the toy. Representatives of the company refused to comment about the toy when contacted later by WFTV.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.