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Garrett Popcorn Sued Over Use Of 'Chicago Mix' Name

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 2, 2014 7:40PM

Photo credit: Mark Carroll

Generations of Chicagoans have grown up calling Garrett Popcorn Shops’ blend of caramel- and cheese-flavored popcorn the “Chicago Mix.” That may soon come to an end if a Minnesota confectionary has its way.

St. Paul-based Candyland is suing Garrett and two other companies over the use of the “Chicago Mix” term, citing trademark infringement, and is looking for unspecified damages. Candyland owner Brenda Lamb told the Pioneer Press, “We went through the process and paid to have this trademark protected. We’ll do everything we legally can to defend it.”

The other two companies named in the lawsuit are Charlotte, N.C.-based Snyder's-Lance and Waukegan, Ill.-based Cornfields. Lamb said Garrett is currently in settlement talks with Candyland. Candyland’s version of Chicago Mix adds seasoned popcorn to the blend. Lamb told the Tribune she named Candyland’s version Chicago Mix in 1988 and trademarked it four years later.

"If I would have put Minneapolis Mix or St. Paul Mix, would it be popular in another state?" Lamb said. "A big-city name usually draws attention to a product. It took off incredibly fast."

Lamb said this isn’t the first time she’s asked Garrett to stop using the “Chicago Mix” name. She sent a letter to Garrett after noticing they were using it at a trade show. Garrett suspended using the name for a little while, but returned to using it later.

Garrett spokesman Grant Deady told the Tribune the company is slowly phasing out the “Chicago Mix” name, but not because of any threat of litigation.

"Garrett Popcorn Shops is expanding into new markets and proactively started transitioning away from calling its world famous CheeseCorn and CaramelCrisp flavor 'Chicago Mix' to the more ownable 'Garrett Mix,' " said spokesman Grant Deady in an email. "And this transition began prior to any lawsuit due to countless brands now using the Chicago Mix name on what Garrett Popcorn Shops feels is a product vastly inferior to ours. These are mostly pre-packed brands found in supermarkets and drug stores. No matter the name, no one in the world delivers Handcrafted Happiness the way we do."