Mumbo Jumbo

The latest craze in D.C. is not just fried chicken (and donuts) but the bright red, tangy condiment that accompanies it known as mumbo sauce. Although it started in small Asian-owned stores, the sauce has been adopted by the rest of the city and even refined by the hipster joints, including GBD near Dupont Circle. But it turns out the District cannot claim mumbo as its own, at least not legally.

Reports the Washington Post:

The phrase “mumbo sauce,” which describes a condiment popular at Asian and chicken-wing carryouts in the District, has been upheld as a trademark of a barbecue company in Chicago in what might be considered a crushing blow to local pride.

Yes, the Chicago mumbo sauce has been bottled and sold under that name since the 1950s by a company called Select Brands. But because the recipe is different from D.C.’s—it’s used frequently as a grilling marinade—Arsha Jones, the founder of Capital City Mumbo Sauce, filed a petition to cancel Select Brands’ trademark registration, which was granted in 1958. Besides, in D.C., “mumbo sauce” is a term for a variety of spicy and tangy sauces found at carryouts—not one particular recipe.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found that Capital City was unable to demonstrate that the trademark had become generic and dismissed the petition for cancellation.

Yet another indignity for the District of Columbia. First, they take away the mumbo sauce. What’s next? Home rule? Oh, wait.

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