Texas Pete Hot Sauce Is Being Sued Because It’s Made in North Carolina, Not Texas


WINSTON-SALEM, NC (WGHP) — A California grocery shopper has filed a class action lawsuit against TW Garner Food Co., alleging false advertising for their brand of Texas Pete hot sauce.

His problem ? Texas Pete Hot Sauce is not made in Texas, but rather in North Carolina.

Philip White, of Los Angeles, says he was under the impression that Texas Pete hot sauce was produced in Texas when he purchased a $3 bottle from a Ralph’s supermarket in September 2021, according to the complaint.

“White relied on the language and images displayed on the product’s front label and, at the time of purchase, understood the product to be a product of Texas,” the complaint states.

The tag includes the Texas flag’s famous ‘lonely’ white star with a cowboy ‘lasso’, which are images White assumed were distinctly Texan, according to the lawsuit.

White said he was surprised later to learn that Texas Pete was not a Texas product, but made in Winston-Salem, North Carolina — a fact TW Garner Food Co. readily admits on its own. website.

“There’s surprisingly nothing Texan about them,” the lawsuit says of the brand. The complaint further alleges that Texas Pete’s ingredients also come from “sources outside of Texas.”

Why is Texas Pete called Texas Pete?

It’s an obvious question, and the brand even acknowledges that it can be confusing for some.

The brand’s website highlights a Dec. 5, 2013, Triad Business Journal article, which pulls the following line: “With a name like Texas Pete, you’d think the famous hot sauce is made somewhere in the Lone Star. State.

But Texas Pete tackles this issue right off the bat and doesn’t shy away from his Carolina roots.

“”So how come a tasty red pepper sauce made in North Carolina is called “Texas Pete” anyway?” the site asks, preemptively, on its history page.

According to Texas Pete, “legend has it” that company founder Sam Garner and his sons Thad, Ralph and Harold were trying to come up with a name for their hot sauce when they turned to their marketing consultant. The adviser recommended “’Mexican Joe’ to evoke the pungent flavor of the cuisine they associated with the region.

Garner rejected that idea in favor of an “American name” and instead suggested Texas, “which also had a reputation for spicy food,” the website says. Garner added “Pete” as a nod to his son Harold’s nickname.

But White, in his complaint, points to the brand’s own history as evidence of alleged false advertising.

“By revealing the thought process behind its brand name, [T.W. Garner Food Co.] admits that the reputation of Texas was one they were trying to emulate and capitalize on when creating their brand,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit accuses Texas Pete of concocting a “false marketing and labeling scheme specifically because he knows the state of Texas enjoys a certain mysticism and appeal in the consumer market and is known for its quality cuisine, its spicy dishes and its hot sauce in particular”.

If he had known Texas Pete wasn’t made in Texas, White says he wouldn’t have bought the hot sauce or paid so much for it. He believes he is not the only one.

“By representing that its Texas Pete brand hot sauce products are Texas products, when they are not, [T.W. Garner Food Co.] has carved its way to a market leadership position in the $3 billion hot sauce industry at the expense of law-abiding competitors and consumers nationwide who desire authentic Texas hot sauce and reasonably believe, but mistakenly, that this is what they are getting when they buy Texas Pete,” the complaint states.

The complaint argues that Texas branding ultimately hurts small Texas businesses trying to capitalize on the authenticity of their Texas hot sauce.

White’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of everyone in the United States who purchased Texas Pete, asks the court to force Texas Pete to change its name and trademark and pay.

TW Garner Food Co. has until Nov. 10 to respond to the complaint.

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