When Texas Blizzard earned recognition for producing the No. 1 snow cone in all of Houston by CultureMap, the family truck's steady climb toward building a local brand was validated. Then, the strange silent guy in a suit showed up.
According to Texas Blizzard co-owners Victor and Richard Fernandez about a week after the snow cone rankings published on CultureMap, "a man dressed in a nice suit pulled up to the truck, took a picture, and immediately departed." It wasn't until a few days later that the snow cone team found out what the mystery man had in store for them.
Dairy Queen, the fast food empire with more than 6,000 locations worldwide, was coming after the small snow cone truck. With an icy fury.
The small snow cone truck simply doesn't have enough money or resources to fight Dairy Queen's big money legal team.
The dessert giant sent Texas Blizzard a cease and desist letter, alleging trademark infringement because the blizzard in Texas Blizzard's name allegedly could be confused with Dairy Queen's signature Blizzard treats.
This essentially forces Texas Blizzard to change its name just as it was building local momentum. The small business simply doesn't have enough money or resources to fight Dairy Queen's big money legal team.
Dairy Queen's threatened to force the take down of Texas Blizzard's Twitter, Facebook and Yelp pages and file a lawsuit, according to Texas Blizzard's owners. Dairy Queen's legal department declined to comment when contacted by CultureMap.
Texas Blizzard's owners were taken aback by the letter. The thin blizzard connection had never even crossed their minds. Instead, Victor Fernandez says they came up with Texas Blizzard because he and his brother envisioned "driving around Houston, cooling off massive groups of people to the point they forgot about the summer heat."
Dairy Queen's letter hit like a sucker punch.
"I was just so upset because we spent so much of our efforts building our company as a brand, instead of a regular old snow cone trailer," Victor Fernandez says. "We made sure everyone knew they had a Texas Blizzard shave ice, not just some Styrofoam cup that can be confused for any other place."
The Fernandez brothers feel like they have no real choice but to change the name now. Despite the monetary and social media burden of rebranding — not to mention repainting their two snow cone trucks and hiring a lawyer — "the overall expenses will be much cheaper than the risk of taking a lawsuit to court."
Even if Texas Blizzard does change its name promptly, Dairy Queen could still file a lawsuit against the Houston brothers for infringing on its Blizzard copyright in the first place. Although, the chance of the Berkshire Hathaway owned company going that hard on the little guys seems highly unlikely.
Texas Blizzard's Rebirth
"I was just so upset because we spent so much of our efforts building our company as a brand, instead of a regular old snow cone trailer."
Despite the blow, the thriving snow cone truck hasn’t slowed down its business.
Instead, while brainstorming new names, the Texas Blizzard's team continued experimenting with tastes and tried incorporating herbs for a new twist on their traditional natural flavors.
"Some fans like that we are experimental. It makes visiting our stand exciting and keeps it from being a mundane experience where you are tired of the same old stuff," Victor Fernandez says.
The most recent trial? Watermelon Basil, which was very well received.
Texas Blizzard plans to be here to stay — no matter what its name ends up being.
The brothers got the word out about their snow cones even more at Free Press Summer Fest, serving over 1,500 pounds of ice on the last day of the music festival alone. As they continue to grow in popularity, Texas Blizzard hopes its fans will help find a new, catchy name that delivers the same message: A snow ball that tastes so good and is so refreshing that it makes you temporarily forget that you are scorching in the Texas heat.
Let us know what you think Texas Blizzard's new name should be by leaving a comment. The Fernandez brothers are eager for ideas.
They want to put this snow fight behind them.