Meat and Poultry Industry News / Sausage

Johnsonville owner fights for continued use of the term “bratwurst”

As America’s No. 1 brand synonymous with bratwurst, Johnsonville is as much amused as it is surprised that the European Union (EU), in negotiating the terms of a new trade deal with the U.S., 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.”

Stayer, who is known as the “Sausage King,” notes his hometown of Sheboygan, Wis., has long been known as the “Bratwurst Capital of the World.” In fact, this title was legally given to the area by Sheboygan County Judge John Bolgert back in 1970.

Stayer’s parents started their butcher shop in Johnsonville, Wisconsin in 1945. Since then, the family has been responsible for producing more bratwurst than any other American brand. The company’s sausage is sold in more than 40 other countries.

“We believe that no brat, regardless of its nationality, should be used to divide us,” said Stayer. “Brats, by their very nature, bring people together – in backyard cookouts and many special occasions.” Stayer commends legislators who have publicly shared their support for Americans’ right to continue producing, selling and enjoying products, regardless of where they may have originated.

“It is preposterous to think we would no longer be able to call our sausage what it really is – bratwurst,” said Stayer. He added jokingly, “I challenge the EU to a bratwurst cook-off.’”

Source: Johnsonville Sausage LLC

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