Northfield-based Kraft Foods is suing Cracker Barrel Old Country Store over the restaurant chain's plans to use the "Cracker Barrel" name on packaged ham, bacon and other foods.
Kraft notes that it started using the "Cracker Barrel" name on cheese in 1954. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., which operates 620 locations around the country, was established in 1969 in Lebanon, Tenn.
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Kraft says it never took any formal legal action until now because the chain had only been using the name at its own locations and online. But Kraft says Cracker Barrel Old Country Store's recent licensing agreement with a food retailer to sell foods including "assorted lunch meats, glazes, jerky and summer sausage" will cause confusion among consumers and harm the reputation of its "award-winning" Cracker Barrel cheese.
In the lawsuit, Kraft listed the hundreds of awards its cheese has won through the decades, including "17 gold medals in the New York State Fair from 1959 to 1987."
"Due to the public acceptance, fame and great recognition of the Cracker Barrel mark, the mark has come to represent an enormous amount of goodwill for Kraft," the company said in the filing.
A representative for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store wasn't immediately available for comment. On its website, the company says the restaurants and shops are intended to evoke "America's country heritage" with home-style country food and unique gifts.
Since 2000, Kraft says Cracker Barrel cheese has generated sales of more than $100 million a year. There are now more than 20 different Cracker Barrel products in a variety of forms, including blocks, bars and slices, the company said.
Kraft also makes brands including Jell-O, Miracle Whip, Oscar Mayer and Velveeta.