My mom made potato salad – very good potato salad. She made potato salad with potatoes, mayonnaise, eggs, onion, celery, and salt. More specifically, she made potato salad with Idaho® potatoes, Hellman’s® mayonnaise, eggs, onion, celery, and salt. No other mayonnaise, and no other potato, would do.
Mom believed that Hellman’s® was the best mayonnaise. It was delicious and creamy and she knew that the mayonnaise in the next jar that she bought would be just as creamy and delicious as the mayonnaise that was in the previous jar. That is the function of a trademark – to bring to mind the properties and qualities that consumers associate with a particular product. This visceral reaction to a trademark or a brand name is what a brand is all about. At the center of every brand is the brand name or trademark that triggers this reaction. The Hellman’s mark is registered in the Patent and Trademark Office for mayonnaise.
So, what’s an Idaho potato? Idaho is a geographic certification mark that is registered, in several variations, for potatoes. The Idaho registrations are owned by the State of Idaho Potato Commission. Obviously, the right to use the Idaho certification marks is reserved for use on potatoes grown in Idaho and, oddly enough, also for use on potatoes grown in Malheur County, Oregon. However, there is more to it than that. The Idaho Potato Commission has adopted standards – seven pages of standards – that were promulgated by the United States Department of Agriculture. So, Idaho potatoes come from Idaho (and Oregon) and they meet or exceed certain specific standards for quality and size, among other things.
In Europe, geographic certification marks are called collective marks and they are protected by decrees issued periodically by the Commission of the European Communities. In 2010, the Commission issued Commission Regulation (EU) No 1098/2010 entering the name Dresdener Stollen in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. Stollen is a moist, heavy bread filled with fruit. I know this because my father-in-law, who was born in Tübingen, Germany, to artisan bakers named Seizinger, taught me how to make stollen. Dresdener Stollen is produced in the city of Dresden by only 150 Dresden bakers.
Nowadays, my daughter and I make potato salad in the summer and we bake stollen at Christmas time. At this moment, I am hungry.