Foodie News Wall Street Probably Missed This Week
By Burt Carey
Sometimes it’s beneficial to peel away from financial news about Wall Street and world stock markets. First, softer and less dramatic headlines won’t make your heart race over an imploding portfolio. And second, since business stories in and of themselves tend to be less exciting than watching a 90-year-old take a mid-afternoon nap, some really peculiar things happened in the food and beverage industry this week that could have, would have, should have been first page business section fodder.
Folks in Seattle – you know, where Amazon is headquartered – may soon be dancing on table tops in the luxury of their own homes. Amazon just announced that it will begin home deliveries of wine, beer and spirits as part of its Prime Now program.
Prime Now is the online retailer’s one- and two-hour delivery service, which is another iteration of Amazon Prime, the company’s shopping membership program that costs $99 per year. In exchange, Amazon Prime members get “free” two-day delivery on millions of items.
Analysts estimate that the company has about 40 million Amazon Prime customers worldwide.
Amazon Prime launched in New York City last year, where it was integrated with Amazon Fresh, a grocery delivery service that has been slow to expand. Diving into the booze market may give Amazon Prime the boost it needs for expansion.
Speaking of grocery delivery services, Instacart announced on Tuesday that it has opened up for business in its 17th city, Indianapolis. Customers there can now order deliveries from Whole Foods Market, Marsh Supermarkets, Georgetown Market, Costco and Petco stores, according to Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO at Instacart.
Norberto Colón Lorenzana is not a happy camper in Puerto Rico this week because you can’t copyright a chicken sandwich. So says a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Lorenzana had sued his former employer, the South American Restaurant Corporation, for $10 million – an estimated percentage on
the profits on the Pechu Sandwich sold at Church’s Chicken since 1991. Lorenzana, who started working for SARCO in 1987, says he created the recipe for the chicken sandwich, which consisted of a fried chicken breast slipped between two buns with lettuce, tomato, American cheese and garlic mayonnaise.
Puerto Rican officials granted a trademark registration for the Pechu Sandwich in 1999, and by 2005 the registration had been given to SARCO. The corporation then applied for a federal trademark registration for the “Pechusandwich,” and its application was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Lorenzana claimed that SARCO committed fraud in applying for the federal trademark and that it had violated his “copyright” by stealing his recipe and name for the chicken sandwich.
Copyright law, as the court pointed out, covers eight categories: literary works; dramatic works, including musical score; musical works, including lyrics; pantomimes and choreographed works; pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. Chicken sandwich recipes don’t qualify for copyright protection.
“A recipe — or any instructions — listing the combination of chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise on a bun to create a sandwich is quite plainly not a copyrightable work,” Chief Judge Jeffrey Howard wrote. The court also found that copyright protection cannot be extended to words and short phrases, such as names, titles and slogans.
Howard noted that Lorenzana and his attorneys had failed to “sufficiently allege” that SARCO had made false statements in its trademark application.
And our final foodie news for the week comes from the Food and Drug Administration’s upbraiding of a San Francisco vegan startup named Hampton Creek Foods.
In an Aug. 12 letter to Hampton Creek Foods, the FDA points out that the company’s Just Mayo brand is in violation of federal law for misbranding because Just Mayo, which features the image of a white egg on its label, doesn’t contain eggs.
“The use of the term ‘mayo’ in the product names and the image of an egg may be misleading to consumers because it may lead them to believe that the products are the standardized food, mayonnaise,” stated the letter. “The use of the term ‘Just’ together with ‘Mayo’ reinforces the impression that the products are real mayonnaise by suggesting that they are ‘all mayonnaise’ or ‘nothing but’ mayonnaise. However, your Just Mayo and Just Mayo Sriracha do not meet the definition of the standard for mayonnaise. According to labels for these products, neither product contains eggs. Additionally, the products contain additional ingredients that are not permitted by the standard of identity for mayonnaise, such as modified food starch.”
The FDA also said Just Mayo contains more than 13 grams of total fat per 50 grams, which invalidates Hampton Creek Foods’ claim that Just Mayo is cholesterol-free.
Image: Amish Patel