Sheboygan-based Johnsonville Sausage LLC says it is "as much amused as it is surprised" that the European Union, in negotiating the terms of a new trade deal with the United States, is pushing to trademark several different foods – including bratwurst – that have originated in an EU country.
"As we understand it, because the bratwurst was born in Germany, any American-made brat would have to be referred to as a 'bratwurst-like sausage' under these proposed restrictions," said Johnsonville owner Ralph Stayer. "Where do we draw the line? Do we think that the EU should instead use terms such as 'spaghetti-like' and 'beer-style' if those items truly originated in China? No, we don't think so."
Imagine Wisconsin cheesemakers having to market "Swiss-like cheese." Or Wisconsin restaurants having to serve "Brit-style fish and chips" on Good Friday.
Stayer notes that his hometown of Sheboygan has long been known as the "Bratwurst Capital of the World." In fact, the title was legally given to the town by Sheboygan County Judge John Bolgert back in 1970.
Stayer's parents started their butcher shop in 1945. Since then, the family has produced more bratwurst than any other American brand.
"We believe that no brat, regardless of its nationality, should be used to divide us," Stayer said. "Brats, by their very nature, bring people together – in backyard cookouts and many special occasions."
Germans, including some of my ancestors, have been fleeing their homeland to come to America since 1670. Sorry, Germany. Your brats, your beers, your sauerkraut and more have all melted into our American pot. And we’re not giving them back.
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.
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