Even though each bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce explicitly states that the product is manufactured in North Carolina, the lawsuit alleges that the “average consumer” would not likely notice such imagery.
A California man who bought a $3 bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce has filed a lawsuit against its North Carolina-based parent company, claiming that he would have never bought the product if he knew that it was not actually made in the Lone Star State.
In his complaint, plaintiff Philip White said that he would not have bought or paid full-price for—ironically—a “Louisiana-style” hot sauce produced in the Carolinas.
Attorneys for White have since derided Texas Pete’s labeling as a form of false advertising, with the sauce’s makers having knowingly “capitalized on consumers’ desire to partake in the culture and authentic cuisine of one of the most prideful states in America.”
USA Today notes that Texas Pete’s website provides an explanation for the sauce’s name: after consulting a marketing expert, company founder Sam Garner decided to brand his product “Texas Pete,” both because of the Lone Star State’s reputation for spicy food and because his son has a similar nickname.
“The current factory, built in 1942 and added onto too many times to count, sits on the original Garner family home site in northwest Winston-Salem. And the legendary Texas Pete, proud of his cowboy heritage but also a proud North Carolinian, continues to thrive,” Texas Pete’s website states.
An image on the back of the product, adds USA Today, specifically indicates that the sauce is manufactured in North Carolina.
However, White and his attorneys claim that the average consumer would not likely read this informational image—and may buy a bottle of Texas Pete simply because the sauce’s name suggests a more Southern origin.
The product’s label, attorneys wrote, uses “distinctly Texan” imagery, including the “famed white ‘lone’ star from the Texan flag together with a ‘lassoing’ cowboy.”
“If a consumer conducted an extremely close review of the Products’ back labels, nothing would overcome the reasonable impression given by the front label that the Products are indeed made in Texas,” the lawsuit alleges.
However, the lawsuit says that—ultimately—there “is nothing ‘Texas’ about Texas Pete.”
White’s complaint is seeking a court order awarding unspecified monetary damages, as well as a directive for Texas Pete to change its name and branding.
A spokesperson for T.W. Garner Food Co., the owner of Texas Pete, told The McClatchy News that the company is aware of the lawsuit and considering its legal options.
“We are currently investigating these assertions with our legal counsel to find the clearest and most effective way to respond,” the lawsuit states.