About a week after Jace Fletcher Christensen announced that she was launching Fletch, a new pop-up focused on all things fried food, beloved State Fair of Texas corny dog purveyor Fletcher’s is distancing itself from the similarly-named entity.
After Fletch went public with its plans to serve deep-fried “fine stick food,” Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs swiftly corrected fans who thought that it might be affiliated with the iconic State Fair purveyor. A statement posted to Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs’s Facebook page, makes clear that Fletch and Fletcher’s are not affiliated. “Fletch does not sell our famous Fletcher’s Corny Dog,” the statement reads. “We are aware of [Fletch’s] recent launch because it is already causing confusion in the marketplace.” A separate post with the same disclaimer is captioned “If it doesn’t say ‘Fletcher’s,’ it isn’t the Original.”
Here’s where things get complicated: Fletch founder Christensen is the great-granddaughter of Fletcher’s co-founder Neil Fletcher, who invented the corny dog in the 1940s, but her pop-up is not an offshoot of Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs. Judging by the company’s public statements and activity from its executives on social media, Fletcher’s doesn’t appear to be particularly supportive of the enterprise, either.
Executives at Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs haven’t shied away from addressing the topic on social media. “The true legacy of my father is in the hands of my brother and I,” Fletcher’s vice president Amber Fletcher wrote on Facebook. “Anyone else making claims to be taking on that role is simply, a liar. Don’t be fooled y’all.” In a follow-up comment on that post, which has since been deleted or made private, Amber Fletcher says that it is “sick” that Christensen is using Fletcher’s father’s name for her business. “My father would be so disappointed,” she wrote. “But he’s not even here to defend himself.” Fletcher’s father, Corny Dog King Neil “Skip” Fletcher Jr., died in 2017 after a lengthy battle with pneumonia, just before his stand at the State Fair celebrated its 75th anniversary.
The “confusion” alleged by Fletcher’s could potentially result in a claim of trademark infringement, which can occur when a company uses a name, logo, or other branding that is “confusingly similar” to a trademark owned by another company. When asked whether or not she was concerned about Fletcher’s taking action against her pop-up, Christensen tells Eater that “she would be devastated,” and argues that the two businesses are different enough to avoid any potential claims of infringement.
“It would mean that my grandmother would be initiating [proceedings]. I did everything I could to differentiate and distance my company from theirs,” Christensen says. “I don’t say ‘Fletcher’s,’ I don’t say ‘corny dogs,’ I don’t even say ‘corn dogs,’ I say ‘fine stick food.’ We offer an expansive menu, as half of our business is based on The Funnel Cake Bar by Fletch. Our logo and style is modern, rustic, black and white, no red or yellow. There should be no confusion.” On Facebook and Instagram, Christensen pushed back against “bullying” and “spamming” with an extensive “legal disclaimer.” Scope that out here:
Christensen also says that her pop-ups won’t use the same recipes as those that Fletcher’s uses at the State Fair of Texas, largely because she doesn’t know them. “All basic cornmeal batter recipes have similar ingredients by nature,” she says, noting that Fletch’s recipes try to avoid preservatives and other artificial ingredients. There’s also a potential that Fletch could expand into a permanent restaurant if the pop-ups were successful. Christensen wouldn’t confirm whether plans for that were in the works just yet, but did note that “Fletch never says never.”
Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs did not respond to Eater’s request for additional comment beyond their Facebook post by press time, but this story will be updated as additional details become available.