Candyland files lawsuit over trademarked Chicago Mix popcorn

Candyland files lawsuit over trademarked Chicago Mix popcorn
Photo courtesy of Candyland

Candyland, St. Paul's 82-year-old candy and popcorn shop, has filed a lawsuit against three major companies over wrongful use of Candyland's "Chicago Mix" trademark. Owner Brenda Lamb created the mix in 1988 after taking a trip to a Chicago candy expo with Candyland co-owner Doug Lamb. Upon returning home, she combined Candlyand's caramel, cheese, and regular seasoned popcorn varieties and named it the Chicago Mix as a tribute to the Midwestern city. The name was trademarked in 1992.

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Since then, three major companies have adopted the name, ignoring Candyland's cease and desist letters. Among them are Garrett Popcorn Shops, Snyder's-Lance Inc., and Cornfields Inc., the producer of G.H. Cretors popcorn for Costco, Hy-Vee, and Whole Foods.

"Things started to unfold when the Internet became more popular. We had been sending cease and desist letters for the past decade. We've been really successful with smaller companies, but it's been a battle," says Candyland assistant Patricia Briseño-DeJoy. "When the companies are a little bit bigger than us, it's more of a challenge to protect our rights for the mark."

When other companies adopt the Chicago Mix name, it tarnishes the original's reputation and Candyland's dedication to quality, Briseño-DeJoy says.

"Our product is hand stirred fresh on the premises daily and we feel the Chicago Mix deserves that credibility as far as the product quality goes," she says.

However, the trademark violations have "not particularly" impacted sales, she added.

Candyland is not only asking the companies to stop using the name -- they're also asking them to pay financial damages.

"There has been some response and some talk about a settlement," Briseño-DeJoy says. "Based on some of the conversation we've had with these companies, I don't think there's going to be any leasing of the trademark. We stand really firm in our decision to pursue them and protect our rights for it."

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal conducted a poll asking how readers felt about the lawsuit. As of Monday afternoon, 79% of more than 460 readers believe Candyland should be the only company entitled to use the "Chicago Mix" moniker because "they trademarked it and spent the money marketing it."

Candyland will soon launch an awareness campaign called "®espect Chicago Mix®" that will provide information about the origins of the Chicago Mix, as well as samples and Candyland giveaways.

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