WINSTON-SALEM — A man bought a bottle of Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce for $3 before finding out it was from North Carolina and not Texas.
If he knew the sauce was made in Winston-Salem before buying it, he says he never would have bought it, according to a class action lawsuit filed against the company producing Texas Pete hot sauce. Phillip White, of California, argues that the bottle’s images – including a cartoon cowboy spinning a lasso under the state flag’s “famous ‘lonely’ white star” – tricked him into it. making it look like the sauce came from Texas, and is therefore “misleading,” according to a complaint filed Sept. 12.
“There’s nothing ‘Texas’ about Texas Pete,” the 49-page complaint states.
White is suing TW Garner Food Co. for the brand’s “false marketing and labeling scheme,” accusing it of violating state consumer protection laws, according to the lawsuit.
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In a statement, the company said “we are currently investigating these claims with our legal counsel to find the clearest and most effective way to respond.”
White’s lawsuit demands a jury trial and seeks to rebrand Texas Pete hot sauce by asking the company to change its “unlawful advertising and labeling practices,” the complaint says.
TW Garner Food Co. “knowingly and intentionally capitalizes on consumers’ desire to participate in the culture and authentic cuisine of one of America’s proudest states,” the complaint states.
Texas Pete Hot Sauce has been around in the United States for nearly 100 years after its debut in 1929, at the start of the Great Depression decade.
A man named Sam Garner and his three sons created a spicy sauce that needed an “American name”. Garner suggested combining “Texas”—due to the state’s reputation for spicy cuisine—and his son’s nickname, which was “Pete.”
Today, the TW Garner Food Co. factory, built in 1942, is located where the Garner family’s home once stood in northwest Winston-Salem.
Because TW Garner Food Co.’s website publicly acknowledges that Texas Pete hot sauce is a North Carolina product, the company admits it is aware that “the labeling is false and misleading,” according to the complaint.
In 2021, White purchased a bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce from a Los Angeles store, and the complaint says he might want to buy it again if the company follows state and federal consumer protection laws and The advertisement.
TW Garner Food Co. is accused of profiting from its alleged deception “at the expense of unsuspecting consumers who pay a premium for authenticity,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit argues that when it comes to buying products, geographic origin matters to consumers and points to examples of authentic products such as Mexican tortillas, Belgian chocolate and wine from Napa, California. . However, Texas Pete products are a Louisiana-style hot sauce with ingredients sourced from outside of Texas.
“A hot sauce is distinctly ‘Texan’ if it’s made in Texas, using Texas ingredients and flavor profiles. … A Texas hot sauce may be Louisiana-style, but it must have its own influence and Texas roots,” the complaint states.
White argues that the alleged misleading advertising harms competing brands — particularly hot sauce brands that reference Texas and are made in Texas.
The lawsuit also seeks to recover damages.