The makers of "Slap Ya Mama" last week sued the entrepreneur behind "Punch Ya Daddy," claiming the upstart brand infringes upon their trademark. William Stagg, attorney for the plaintiff, says it's not what's in the cartons of Kirby Falcon's proprietary South Louisiana spice blend that concerns his client: It's the name and logo emblazoned on their labels.
"We don't really know what the recipe is, but we believe the packaging and image my customer has created for Slap Ya Mama is unique," Stagg says. "We believe this brand is calculated to capture our market."
Falcon's attorney did not return calls seeking comment.
According to a June story in Houma Today, Falcon developed his seasoning mix in 2007 while working the grill at his strip-mall lunch counter. He found a name for his product after his 4-year-old son yelped, "I'm going to punch ya, daddy." Punch Ya Daddy is now sold in more than 100 stores across Louisiana.
Slap Ya Mama got its start in a Ville Platte, La., convenience store. Customers considered the Walker family's preferred brand of Cajun seasoning -- which ended up on everything from fried chicken to corn dogs -- too salty, so the family created its own blend back in 1996. "When you use this seasoning, the food tastes so good that it will make you want to go home and slap ya mama," the company's Web site explains. The Walkers trademarked the name in 2008.
The stakes in the seasoning game are especially high since an increasing number of South Louisianans are relying on prepackaged spice mixes to lend their home cooking its distinctive Cajun flavor.
"Premade is becoming more and more popular as lifestyles are becoming more and more hectic," Stagg explains.
With so many seasoning blends on grocery-store shelves, producers are leaning on catchy names, memorable logos and perhaps, as one observer quoted by Lafourche Parish's Daily Comet suggests, wacky lawsuits to get attention. In such a highly competitive market, mama's probably not the only one fated to get slapped.