“Let the wiener wars begin.” That’s what a judge in a legal battle between the nation’s two biggest hot dog brands declared earlier today, as the makers of Oscar Mayer and Ball Park franks each accused the other of misleading and deceptive advertising practices.
Lawyers for Ball Park’s parent company Sara Lee, and Kraft Foods, the folks behind Oscar Mayer hot dogs, have been suing and countersuing each other for two years, each alleging that the other is lying to consumers about the qualities of their product while unfairly disparaging their competitors.
It all began in 2009 when Sara Lee sued over Oscar Mayer ads claiming that its dogs had bested Ball Park in a national taste test. Sara Lee lawyers say the test in question was less than scientific. “They were served boiled hot dogs on a white paper plate,” adding that Ball Park dogs are intended to be eaten on a bun and might taste overly salty otherwise.
That same year, Kraft sued over Ball Park ads that called the hot dogs “America’s Best Franks” and claimed that other hot dogs “aren’t even in the same league.”
In addition to these allegations, the court will hear Sara Lee’s arguments that Oscar Mayer Jumbo Beef Franks are not “100 percent pure beef” as advertised.
From the AP:
Kraft defends the “100 percent pure beef” tag, saying its intent was to state that the only meat used is beef. Some industry hot dogs include a mix of turkey, pork, chicken or other meats. Kraft further argues that the “pure beef” label is justified because surveys show a perception among some consumers that hot dogs contain “mystery meats.”
The judge tried to interject some common sense into the trial.
“Don’t we have here a couple of big hot dog companies just saying they are the best?” he asked. “Is there something more unusual going on here than what goes on every day?”
The judge pointed out the pot-kettle nature of the lawsuits when the Ball Park lawyer brought up the aforementioned issue of the allegedly tainted taste test around which Oscar Mayer based its ad campaign. He noted that Ball Park had done something similar by running ads citing an award given to the hot dog by a group of 10 top San Francisco chefs.
“And how would ten chefs in San Francisco know what the best hot dog is when they have never been to Chicago or tasted a Chicago hot dog?” asked the judge.
Dogs day in court: ‘Let the wiener wars begin’ [Chicago Tribune]