California man sues maker of Texas Pete hot sauce because it’s produced in North Carolina

Texas Pete hot sauce is being sued for not being made in Texas.
(Marc Martin/Los Angeles Times)

A California man is suing the company that makes Texas Pete hot sauce, accusing it of misleading customers with its name because its signature sauce is manufactured in North Carolina.

The suit, filed in federal court in California last month, alleges that T.W. Garner Food Co. defrauds customers with its name and lone star logo on the iconic brand.

“There is nothing ‘Texas’ about Texas Pete,” wrote attorneys for Philip White, the plaintiff in the case. “Defendant has cheated its way to a market-leading position in the $3 billion-dollar hot-sauce industry at the expense of law-abiding competitors and consumers nationwide who desire authentic Texas hot sauce and reasonably, but incorrectly, believe that is what they are getting when they purchase Texas Pete.”

White is hoping for a judge to certify his case as a class-action lawsuit and claims that the company did more than $5 million in damage with its inaccurate label.

But T.W. Garner Food does not try to hide the fact that its product is Texan in name only. The company explains the origin of the name on its website.


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The company claims that its founder, Sam Garner, was trying to come up with a name for the family’s red pepper sauce in 1929 when one of his three sons suggested calling it “Mexican Joe.”

“Nope!” Garner said, according to company lore. “It’s got to have an American name!”

He suggested Texas Pete after one of his sons’ nicknames.

But that explanation did not satisfy White.

“On its website, Defendant readily admits having no connection to Texas, while it is decidedly not forthcoming about this on the Products or elsewhere at the point of purchase,” the suit reads.

A lawyer for T.W. Garner Food did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company has until Nov. 10 to respond to the suit.