A California court says it will not dismiss the false advertising lawsuit against the hot sauce maker from North Carolina-based Texas Pete.
On July 31, U.S. District Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong denied the motion to dismiss the lawsuit in a 20-page letter, saying that customers “could believe — erroneously — that the products originated in Texas.”
“Though it is true that the imagery of the solo white star and lassoing caricature are not exclusive to the state of Texas, taking the imagery and text of the label as a whole, this argument does not discount the possibility that a reasonable consumer would believe that the products are based in or originate from Texas.”
The class action lawsuit, filed on September 12, 2022, by Phillip White, claimed that he purchased a bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce for about $3 at a Los Angeles supermarket, believing it was produced in Texas, according to the complaint.
After learning the hot sauce was made in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he claimed the company was using false advertising. He further claimed that he would not have bought the bottle or paid as much for it if he had known where it was produced.
“By way of its false marketing and labeling, [Texas Pete] knowingly and intentionally capitalizes on consumers’ desire to partake in the culture and authentic cuisine of one of the most prideful states in America,” the complaint alleges.
White’s complaint asked the court to force Texas Pete to change its name and branding, and to give money to past customers.
T.W. Garner Food Co. filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Nov. 10, 2022, saying that the bottle includes a label saying that the product is made in North Carolina.
Judge Frimpong ruled that the label is not clear enough, writing that, “the back label contains no such ‘explicit statement of origin.”
Texas Pete explains the origin of its hot sauce on the company’s website.
“So how is it that a tasty red pepper sauce made in North Carolina happens to be named ‘Texas Pete’ anyway?” reads the website.
According to the site, hot sauce creator Sam Garner named the sauce wanted to give the sauce an American name. It says that Garner bestowed the name “Texas Pete” on the sauce because of Texas’ “reputation for spicy cuisine” and as a nod to his son Harold’s nickname, Pete.
T.W. Garner Food Co. has until Nov. 10 to respond to the complaint.
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.