Here’s A Solution To Five Guys’ Legal Problem: Stop Deceiving Customers

Hot Dog

Darren Smith, one of the less-circumspect guest-bloggers that law professor Jonathan Turley inexplicably entrusts his blog to on weekends, wrote a post critical of Washington State for a law criminalizing the advertising of food as “Kosher-Style” when it is not, in fact, kosher.

Maybe he’s just a big fan of the offending restaurant chain he highlights, Five Guys, and is thinking with his stomach. Otherwise, he has no excuse for essentially giving a pass to intentional misrepresentation and fraudulent advertising as “no big deal.” Smith writes:

“Your author visited a Five Guys restaurant in Washington and did note that the “Kosher Style” hot dogs are cooked on the same grill as the beef, which would be a mixing of kosher and non-kosher foods in the making of the end product….The company has made an effort, on the company website at least, to note that these hot dogs are in the style of kosher and not actually kosher, but this might not be enough in Washington….There are numerous examples of products in the U.S. economy that use the word “Style” to declare that the food product is not actually as pure as might be expected of a product marketed without the word “Style”. Some examples might be “Artisan style breads” or “Honey style sauce” and do not necessarily break Washington’s, other states’ or Federal consumer protection laws. Yet Washington’s legislature decided that “style” was not enough with regard to differentiating kosher foods with non-kosher. It is either Pure or Not-Pure, and criminalized violations….It is certainly difficult to operate a business in numerous states having often greatly varied laws and administrative codes and when serving something as ordinary as a hot dog might possibly constitute a crime; it can make any business worry. Five Guys likely just wants to provide a menu its customers enjoy.”

Elsewhere in the article, Smith acknowledges that for certain religions eating non-kosher food can be “quite significant,” yet he pooh-poohs the effort of Washington legislators to stop establishments like Five Guys from using deceitful language to suggest that food is kosher when it isn’t. Disclaimers on websites and even menus come under the category of “fine print,” like “results not typical” in diet aid ads. Here’s a useful ethics tip: if you have to explain why your misleading description isn’t really misleading,  a) it’s misleading, and b) you know it. All Five Guys has to do to take itself out of legal peril is to stop misleading its customers. Smith, however, thinks the problem is the law.

“Numerous examples of products in the U.S. economy that use the word “Style” to declare that the food product is not actually as pure as might be expected of a product marketed without the word ‘Style'” just means “everybody does it.” Smith’s entire argument is a series of rationalizations, attacking Washington State for having a quite reasonable and straight-forward consumer protection law that says “Don’t try to deceive your customers, especially when it may cause some to violate the sacred tenets of their faith”

Smith’s main beef (pun intended) may be based on anti-religion animus or at least stunning insensitivity to how serious observant Jews would regard being tricked into eating non-kosher hot dogs. “ This blog has discussed several examples of the criminalization of activities in the United States that would be considered by many to be either civil in nature or based upon manners or simple transgressions….[G]iven some of the heightened importance of issues relating to core values of particular cultures or religions, sometimes legislatures go about enacting laws having uniquely strong punishments that businesses or individuals might not be aware,” he writes. Ah! Then this is like Tennessee banning the teaching of evolution then! No, the law in question acknowledges that false and deceptive advertising that induces people to violate their religious beliefs is just a little bit more serious than Subway advertising a “foot long sub” that is really only  eleven inches. When ethics fail, the law takes over.

To Smith, religion is trivial, and he can’t comprehend that the law is properly designed to protect those who don’t think their faith is trivial from establishments like Five Guys, and people like him.

ADDENDUM: This link is related, though not exactly on point; the comments too.


Source: Res Ipsa Loquitur.

66 thoughts on “Here’s A Solution To Five Guys’ Legal Problem: Stop Deceiving Customers

  1. Jack, I think your premise is in error. “Kosher style” doesn’t exist. It isn’t a thing. Something is either Kosher or it is not. “Kosher style” communicates a salient piece of information–the food being served isn’t actually kosher. Anyone who keeps kosher knows this. Anyone who doesn’t keep kosher shouldn’t care.
    Moreover, the bigger ethical concern is the unnecessary entanglement of the government into religious affairs. Certifying organizations in the private sector issue hechshers. Let them and their mashgichim police kashrut. Many orthodox jews don’t eat Hebrew National because they believe Triangle K does not afford sufficient kashrut. Should Hebrew National be prosecuted in Washington because some Jews say it is Kosher and others say it is treifa? Should the government start policing Mass to ensure transubstantiation actually takes place? If Shiites produce halal meat, but Sunnis say it isn’t because Shia is heresy, a misrepresentation might be taking place.
    Prosecute someone who lies about it being “all beef”, not “kosher style”. I can make a ham and cheese sandwich Kosher style by serving it on rye with a pickle.

    • “Kosher-style” is like saying “vegan-style”: its only purpose is to deceive. Kosher-style may not be a term or art, but since Kosher describes a process, saying something is done according to a process when it hasn’t been is deceptive, and intentionally so. If, in fact, no Jew who feels compelled to only eat kosher beef would ever be gulled by kosher-style advertising, then the law has no one to protect, and it isn’t needed. Are you confident that is the case?

      By the way, your last sentence contradicts your first one.

      It still doesn’t excuse Five Guys. The food either is kosher or it’s not, and using kosher in the description if it’s not is dishonest. The -style trick is pure deceit. Let’s see: an honest-style lawyer; a trustworthy-style politician; a competent-style doctor. Seriously? You really think such inherently deceptive language should be permitted in advertising?

      • I would say that the law protects nobody as people who keep Kosher will demand more than just the statement of “Kosher Style” before they eat there.

        Five guys cooks bacon and doesn’t segregate grill areas. There is no way a person who keeps strict Kosher will eat there.

        If five guys advertised that it served Hebrew National Hot Dogs ( I don’t know what brand they use), would they also be ethically challenged? That the Hot Dogs themselves are Kosher is just a step in the process. If one of those dogs touches a plate that touched a milk product it would ritualistically make that hot dog unkosher.

        But in case you are still unconvinced, consider Kosher style as short hand. Hot dogs are known as being a combination of meat products. But hot dogs like Hebrew National are prepared using only the cuts of meat from the animal that are considered Kosher. So if Five Guys is going to sell “All beef hot dogs that do not contain certain cuts of meat that are not considered Kosher”, how else would they advertise it? “Kosher Style” is an appropriate way to describe their product. It is not a lie. There is no representation that the food is prepared under strict rabbinic supervision.

        And your statements about “trustworthy style” are really not on target. Many times I have seen food described as “X-Style”. Mexican style food. Asian style food. These are not lies. Kosher style is not a lie either.

        • Dan, if there’s an argument there, I don’t see it. Tex-Mex IS a style. Kosher is a process, not a style. “Short hand” for what? Deception? “If Five Guys advertised that it served Hebrew National Hot Dogs ( I don’t know what brand they use), would they also be ethically challenged?” If they didn’t actually use those dogs? Of course that would be deceptive. What do you think you are trying to say?

          Tell me: do those preparing kosher food cook it on the same grill as non-kosher beef? No? Then it’s not prepared “Kosher-style” at Five Guys, is it?????

          Misrepresentation, clear as clear can be. And intentional.

          • You really believe that Five Guys has the intent to make Jews (anyone else who chooses to only eat Kosher food) believe that the hot dogs they serve is Kosher when they are really not? You really believe that Five Guys is saying “let’s get more Jews in here and fool them out of their money by making them think that the place that serves cheeseburgers with bacon on them has one menu item that is Kosher BUT when they say “hey, it isn’t really Kosher” we will use the defense of “but we didn’t say Kosher, just kosher “style” while twisting their mustaches and laughing maniacally?

            Because that is what you are saying when you are saying that Five Guys is intentionally misrepresenting their Hot Dogs as Kosher.

            • Of course we believe that Five Guys is intentionally misleading it’s customers to believe that it’s hotdogs are kosher, when they are not, and basically everything else on that list until the moustache twirling and laughing, although, I don’t preclude that.

              Because otherwise, what’s the point? What’s the difference between a Kosher-style hotdog and an all-beef hotdog? There was obviously some utility in marketing it as Kosher, and that utility is based on taking advantage of people who adhere to restrictive food laws.

              I really don’t understand the knots you must have tied your brain into to think that this was acceptable… Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m reading this as you thinking that because ‘kosher-style’ is somehow different from ‘kosher’, Five guys aren’t technically being dishonest, they’re just letting people believe something that’s indirectly misleading. Buyer beware? Because that’s kinda fucked up.

              • No. If they said “Kosher Hot Dog” then they would be representing it as Kosher. Adding style adds meaning that doesn’t exist in the absence of the word.

                You said they intentionally are misrepresenting. Which means you believe they are intending to fool someone into thinking their hot dogs are Kosher.

                You can unintentionally misrepresent. I do not believe there was any intent on the part of Five Guys to mislead people into thinking their hot dogs are Kosher. If I had to guess, I would assume that the Five Guys people know that people like Kosher hot dogs and so they wanted to use Kosher hot dogs AND let people know they were using those (better tasting) hot dogs in their product offerings BUT did not want people to believe that they were offering a Kosher item… so they added style. If anything, adding style proves to me that they intentionally want people to know that the dogs are not Kosher.

                Now, did people get confused by the wording and buy these “Kosher Style” hot dogs assuming they would be eating a Kosher product. Maybe. But I do not believe that was the intent of Five Guys nor do I believe that to be the fault of Five Guys.

                Any person participating in a special diet (be it for medical necessity, allergies, or religious purposes) should be required to determine for themselves that the food they are consuming meets their dietary needs. Companies help people with nut allergies by saying that certain products are made in plants where peanuts are used. Other companies will label items as gluten free for those who are seeking to reduce/eliminate gluten consumption. Companies seeking to sell items to those following the Jewish dietary laws will have one of the many markings (K, an O surrounding a U, an O surrounding a K, and several others) that denote food as being certified as Kosher. Nothing at Five Guys includes any such marking. It is not on the menu. It is not on the website. It is nowhere to be found. The lack of marking means the food is not certified as Kosher and as such people strictly following the Jewish dietary laws would be ill advised to eat at that establishment.

          • And I clearly said what it was short hand for. Food that is made up of ingredients that normally would be considered Kosher but are not guaranteed to be presented in a Kosher way.

            And as it turns out, they DO serve Hebrew National Hot Dogs. What if they just had as a menu item “Hebrew National Hot Dog”. They are announcing that they are selling a hot dog that is known for being Kosher. HOWEVER, the moment that Kosher hot dog touches the grill the hot dog stops being Kosher. Are you saying that Five Guys should be required to say on the menu “but we don’t prepare it in a Kosher way guys”.

            Again, people who follow the laws of Kashrut would know that you can prepare kosher food in a way that makes it unkosher. That is what Five Guys is doing. They are taking a Kosher Product (which many people like and find tastes better than other hot dogs) and they are serving it in an unkosher way. But it doesn’t change the fact that the ingredients of the hot dog are still the same ingredients. So that makes the hot dog Kosher Style.

            Not misrepresentation.

            • Hilarious. You have to understand English better than this.” Are you saying that Five Guys should be required to say on the menu “but we don’t prepare it in a Kosher way guys”? No, I’m saying that they can’t imply that they DO prepare it the Kosher way, because that’s what Kosher Style implies. The dog itself IS Kosher, not Kosher style. The style of its preparation makes it NOT Kosher!

              I feel like I’m losing my mind.

    • Jay makes some excellent points. As a Jewish person myself (who does not keep Kosher personally but has stayed places that do, including summers in camp) I have been places where food is listed as being Kosher. When food is Kosher you will see that symbol. And I will verify that some symbols are viewed as more legitimate as other symbols by certain sects of Judaism. But if a business is going to sell you food, prepared or otherwise, that is Kosher to the standards of the consumer, that consumer will typically want to see the marking that shows proof that the food is,in fact, certified as being prepared in a Kosher way in all steps.

      As someone who is Jewish, when I see that a dish is “Kosher style” I would never assume that the food is, in fact, prepared in a Kosher way. And if it was important to me I would ask.

      I am very much a supporter of truth in advertising and think companies are not punished enough for false advertising. (Home warrantee companies are often guilty of this, but they are an ethical issue for another topic). Saying that something is “Kosher Style” is not false advertising.

      • “As someone who is Jewish, when I see that a dish is “Kosher style” I would never assume that the food is, in fact, prepared in a Kosher way. And if it was important to me I would ask.”

        If it was important to you, you shouldn’t have to ask. I have seen fish advertised as “Catch of the day.” I have asked: was this really caught today? Answer: No. Then it’s false advertizing.

        What is it, if it’s not false advertizing? So what if it only misleads those who don’t know what Kosher is—and that has yet to be established? It’s still misleading. All you have said is that you’re Jewish, but don’t really care if it’s kosher of not. I don’t care if food is Gluten free or not. Does that mean that if it is advertised that way and had gluten, I’m not being deceived—they “it’s not a lie unless the person deceived cares” defense?

        How about “Gluten Free-Style”?

        • Gluten free style to me would be “tastes like crap but still has gluten”.

          Seriously though, if something said “gluten free” and yet it had gluten, that would be deceptive.

          I am unsure how something could be “gluten free style”. I know how things can be “Mexican style” or “Asian style”. Saying that does not make me think that the food was made by Mexicans or Asians respectively. such a label should not be seen as deceptive.

          I also respect your assertion that I shouldn’t have to ask. When keeping Kosher, you have to ask. You just do. You cannot make any assumptions. The rules are so strict, especially the ritual side of things. Kosher style, at the very least, says “we are not doing the ritual portion of preparing these hot dogs in a Kosher way”.

          • The FOOD is substance—that can be kosher or not. You cannot define the food itself as kosher style if it’s not kosher. A ritual is action, and style typically refers to how something is done. you just said that the words “Kosher Style” tell us that the ritual was not used when the plain meaning of the words suggests that the food was prepared “like” kosher food must be prepared.

              • That’s because you’re being purposefully dense.

                Just like Mexican food can be prepared by a cook of non-Mexican origin, Kosher food can be prepared by a cook of non-Jewish origin. The idea is that the food is Kosher because it adheres to certain ingredient and preparation rules. The proper comparison that would be more apt would be preparing pate de ‘fois grase’ and using chicken liver. Which would also be wrong.

                • By the way, the e on ‘grase’ was a typo, but after realizing that, I thought perhaps I could sell it as being on purpose, because ‘grase’ isn’t ACTUALLY turkey, maybe that’s French for ‘turkey-style’.

          • To me, gluten free style would indicate no gluten deliberately included. There is a world of difference between foods that don’t automatically contain gluten and certified gluten free. There’s also a world of difference between Gluten Sensitivity and actual Celiacs disease. There’s a reason places like Dominos sell gluten free pizza with a prominent disclaimer about being processed in the same facility as regular pizza.

    • Jay, your point is well-taken. I think “Kosher-style” is fine. My State, however, has laws regarding what can be labeled “Kosher” and what can be labeled “Halal,” and what you have to do if Kosher and non-Kosher meats are sold in the same place. To an extent, I agree with those laws from a consumer protection stand-point. As a result, I think your transubstantiation argument misses the point.

      So, I don’t have a big problem with “Kosher-style,” (though I am not sure what that means, and it appears they have tried to conceal it in fine print). Unfortunately, this “style” language will get all the more prolific if labeling laws expand. My parmesan cheese will have to be made in Parma, my romano cheese will have to be made in Rome, or if the State of Tennessee decides that Dickies whiskey is not properly “Tennessee Whiskey,” and my baguette will have to be baked in France, my ouzo will have to be made in Greece, and my yogurt will have to spent three days in a cave being tended to by Lebanese sheep herders.

      So, while I am ambivalent on this issue (both you and Jack have valid points), there is one issue on which I am not ambivalent: “turkey bacon.” Even though I am not the least bit deceived by the labeling, its very concept is repugnant. It is an insult to both the bird and the pig!


  2. Hot dog! As much as I think that dietary laws are archaic and may have made sense in ancient times when there was a significant danger of trichinosis (but not now in developed countries), the Five Guys Restaurant has crossed the line into unethical practices. It is cruel and deceptive to pull this kind of stuff on people who believe terrible things will happen if they eat their ‘kosher style’ dogs.

    • Or, if not, it’s in the category of the “hey, nobody who cares will believe this, so it’s not a lie!” defense, to which the obvious rebuttal is “If you don’t think anyone will believe it, why are you lying?”

  3. I admit I’ve eaten kosher items because of actual diet restrictions and caution, so it’s not always religious. I hate the ‘style’ or ‘food’ or ‘punch’ or ‘product’ in labeling. It’s good odds it’s a far worse idea than the original.

  4. There is a reason other than keeping Kosher to eat a Kosher-style or Hebrew National hot dog.
    I am not Jewish but if I was going to eat a hot dog it would be a Hebrew National hot dog.
    Because they use normal cuts of meat in their process, not “snoots and butts” as the average hot dog is made up of.
    Just thinking about it grosses me out.
    I wonder if they serve veggie dogs?

  5. I’m troubled by restaurants that describe their sweetened iced tea as sweetened with sugar when in fact it is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.
    They cannot trick me, I am allergic to it and know when I’ve had some.
    The latest culprit is Red Lobster.
    I’m still waiting for an explanation.
    If they are using HFCS, why lie and say it is sugar?
    Just admit it’s not up front.

  6. In New Jersey, there is a division of the consumer protection bureau that requires that companies that advertizes “Kosher” to post the what it practices its follows, and what group (if any) certifies its religious suitability.

    It then periodically inspects to ensure that the posted practices or affiliations are accurate. The bureau only verifies affiliation with a religious certifying group, but does not itself check the religious suitability of the establishment. I would assume the Washington bureau performs a substantially similar role.

  7. To me, a Kosher-style hot dog means “yummier than a non-Kosher-style hot dog but still NOT Kosher.” I think this is an example of how language has changed. I can ask my assistant to go Xerox a document and she will bring me back a copy — even though we don’t own a Xerox copier.

    I had a Thai salad today that didn’t seem very Thai to me — other than a few peanuts on it. I think Jay’s analysis is spot-on.

  8. “Kosher Style” is like being “sorta pregnant”. You either are or your are not. I am reminded of the delis in New York City with signs on the door stating, “kosher and non-kosher food prepared and sold here”. While I may be interested in the Hebrew National hot dog I am made fully aware that it’s preparation will render it non-kosher. It’s not “Kosher Style”. It does not impose a burden on the business and doesn’t prevent me from still ordering the hot dog. It does let me know not to take my friend, who follows the dietary laws of kashrut, to that establishment for lunch.

  9. I’m with Jay and Dan on this one. We don’t keep kosher but I have a pretty decent understanding of the laws of kashrut. If I saw something advertised as “kosher style” I would understand it to mean that the ingredients, or the food being offered (whether in a restaurant, at a wedding reception, etc.) may have been kosher in it’s original packaging or kosher when purchased, but the establishment or the caterer, or whoever, is making no attempt and no pretense to maintain a kosher kitchen or a kosher environment. “Kosher style” is what my family would affectionately call “Jew food” but we would never assume it was actually kosher; neither would any observant or Orthodox Jew.

  10. We’re about to see a lot of “-style” food products given that Europeans will no longer allow American-made cheese to carry the name of the cheese.

    eg: Feta cheese comes from Greece. Feta-style cheese is the exact same product, but produced not in Greece.

    The whole situation highlighted in this post just aggravates me. Five Guys most of all because they were too lazy to describe their product accurately, they just went with “Kosher-Style”…which IS misleading.

    As much as I don’t like that there’s now a law about the use of “kosher” – it’s necessary in the sense that opportunist marketers don’t have the brain capacity to restrain themselves.

    Then again, Jay brings up a very valid point about government entangling itself in religious affairs. If one Jew claims another Jew’s food isn’t Kosher and invokes a complaint using the law, the US Government will have to define what is acceptable under “Kosher” and that definition will probably never be complete for everyone and the term will still be useless and people will have to monitor their own diets and food intake anyway.

    • Except that the religious aspect is incidental. If it was a “vegan-style burger” that was fried in beef fat, the issue would be the same. This just happens to be religious. How about a Non-Peanut Style Pad Thai for peanut allergic Thai food lovers, where peanut oil is used to wok it? Dan would say this was OK, presumably. After the diner dropped dead. Because, I guess, he didn’t ask.

      • Saying “Non Peanut” would be misrepresentation because it was using peanut oil. Completely different altogether.

        But most people with peanut allergies would ask the establishment what kind of oil was used to fry/stir fry/saute/or otherwise heat the food.

      • I’ve seen restaurants advertise some of the brands of ingredients they use…. And by and large it’s been to advertise quality. So I can’t answer for Jack, but for me the answer would be yes.

  11. If a food is prepared in a certain style, wouldn’t that mean it’s ACTUALLY prepared in that style? Cooking kosher food in accordance to kosher rules would be food cooked in a kosher style. I can see how one could cook unkosher food in a kosher style, even. But if the style of cooking is the opposite of what the style is…

    Lunch today – vegetarian style beef chili, Mexican style spaghetti, Italian style chicken lo mein, kosher style pork chops, and Chinese style burritos.

    • Let me introduce you to the concept of “Fusion cooking”…

      Mexican style spaghetti is pretty good. Spaghetti goes well with many Taco sauces.

  12. The advertizing is clearly geared towards those who observe a less-strict form of Kosher than Orthodox Jews; Jews who won’t eat pork, but don’t worry about mixing milk and meat, or about mixing Kashrut and non-Kashrut foods on cookware.

    Still, it is unfair to appropriate a term a term ordinarily reserved for foods prepared following strict practices to appeal to a subset of people who are less strict.

  13. I think this is a more nuanced question than just asking “is the -style affixation a lie or not?”. From the architectural education I received, we learned that in art and science, there is more to style than just style. To describe something in “its style” considers a wide range of factors.

    Available technology utilized when the “style” was defined. Gothic-style architecture, maybe built with pneumatic tools and hydraulic equipment, even though during the defining phase of the Gothic style, everything was man-power and animal-power. Because the available technology is not what defined Gothic architecture, rather, the relationship between the details and the specific form of the details is what defines Gothic. Structures made of all wood or all metal, though atypical of the expected stone of a Gothic building, could still be termed Gothic-style, if they match Gothic on it’s defining features if not on it’s other traditional features.

    Another factor, technique, which goes very closely in hand with available technology, is determined by HOW specific technology is utilized on a particular composition. Fresco painting is a technique defined by mixing pigment into a solution and applied to moist plaster most often used in the Italian Renaissance for a variety of artwork on walls, most often in Europe for paintings of medieval or religious purpose. The key variable defining this Style is the Technique and also the Material… whereas the other variables, available technology, or purpose, or fashion are non-definitive. So, were a modern painting done on plaster, with a hydraulic sprayer rigged up to spray paints onto moist plaster, one could call that Renaissance style, even though it isn’t hand applied with a brush, as the brush is not a defining component of the style.

    Materials used, be this plant material for a garden, structural material for a house or even ingredients in food, can be another definer of style, although a much more contentious one. Certainly in food preparation, using ingredients typically native to the Style of food being cooked is definitive. Variables here, however, may include how the ingredients are combined. It was mentioned earlier about Mexican style spaghetti. Spaghetti is an Italian method of pasta preparation, but utilizing typically Mexican materials, one can say “Mexican Style Spaghetti” and not be dishonest. In the past, materials were typically geographically limited which is why you see certain ingredients tied to specific styles, but I don’t think they are definitive to those styles. Modern commerce and trade allows us to interchange the non-defining variables of certain styles to extent that calling something xxx-style shouldn’t be seen as dishonest. In our industry, if we tell a client we’re going to design an English-style garden, we aren’t telling them we’re going to plant all the perennials and annuals that would survive in England as they’d be dead in a week in Texas. What we are telling them is that they will get a nicely arranged garden of shrubs, perennials, and annuals hardy to Texas in the English-style– whose defining components are not specific materials, but the arrangement of those materials.

    Other factors that go into style are purpose of the composition, current fashions and trends, or items I consider to be irritatingly obstuse such as “location of origin” and the actual artisan. In Europe, “Black Forest Ham” is only Black Forest Ham if it is made in the Black Forest region. Take a chunk of ham 10 miles outside the Black Forest Region and prepare it EXACTLY the same way as Black Forest Ham, and you are legally prohibited from calling it Black Forest Ham. Ridiculous.

    I’ve had friends also become contentious that my mom’s Chinese food isn’t real Chinese food, because she isn’t Chinese. So, she used definitive techniques, like woks. Yes. She, used definitive recipes, such as lo mein. Yes. All other aspects of resourcing and preparation that are definitive were used. Yes. So how is that not Chinese food? Well, ok, I guess it is, is the response conclusion at which they’d finally arrive.

    However, for this discussion, Kosher food as a “style” having ALMOST EVERY component of style composing its definition, there are little to no variables that can be toyed with and have the food still be Kosher-style, in that certain non-traditional methods were used that would still be considered Kosher. It’s that black and white.

    But, this is where I don’t think the “-style” affixation is dishonest, for most other aspects of style in art and science, there are enough traditional variables that are not defining of a particular Style that calling something xxx-style is not dishonest. In that category are we seeing most of the protests to your pronouncement on Kosher-style food. You are right about Kosher-style being misleading, but you are wrong on “-style” being a misleading affixation.

    • And as another matter of nuance, it could also be said that clarifying something as xxx-style also says “everything about this is done in the style of xxx” except for the item being clarified is not typically from that style. Used to describe apparant contradictions…such as the above examples of “Mexican-style spaghetti”. I could see something like “kosher-style bacon” meaning everything else other than this being unclean meat has been prepared with the other Kosher traditions.

      • I disagree with the “kosher-style bacon” scenario. It’s like saying vegetarian bacon which is made from side pork. There’s nothing about the product that is either kosher or vegetarian. It either contains meat, or it doesn’t, it either contains unclean elements, or it doesn’t.

        When I see kosher style, I read it similar to vegetarian style… As in vegetarian style lasagna, or vegetarian style chili, you make something that usually includes meat in the style that is vegetarian that precludes meat. So a vegetarian style hotdog, in my mind, would be preparing something that usually contains pork in a way that fits a Kosher diet.

        All this waffling and flopping around trying to twist our brains into understanding how advertising something that isn’t Kosher as Kosher-style demonstrates that even if (and I’m reaching here) Five Guys didn’t deliberately set out to deceive their customers (which I don’t believe), the term needs clarification, and there are better ways of saying “all-beef” without including the word “kosher-style”, which could and probably has deceived people. It’s not relevant that people who keep Kosher wouldn’t be deceived, if I woke up this morning, and decided I wanted to try something Kosher, and something is advertised as Kosher, I should be able to assume that what I’m getting is Kosher. Period.

        • I was near a Five Guys in Manhattan yesterday and asked the guy at the counter what “Kosher-Style” meant. He said, “I don’t know. That it’s Kosher? I’m not Jewish…I really don’t know.”

        • Hebrew National brand hot dogs are not just all beef as some cuts of beef are not considered Kosher (regardless of how the cow was slaughtered).

          I do agree that if you wanted to try something Kosher you should be able to try something Kosher. Kosher style still doesn’t imply that it is Kosher.

            • I made my argument further up the thread as to why it should imply the exact opposite… that it is intended to imply “not really Kosher”.

              People who don’t know what Kosher means WILL NOT BE HARMED by eating a hot dog that they think is Kosher that is not actually Kosher.

              I am Jewish. If I saw a cracker was “communion wafer style” and I ate it thinking I was actually eating a communion wafer because I made an ASSUMPTION that was INCORRECT that the wafer was an actual communion wafer I would NOT BE HARMED by it because I was not eating the wafer for the purposes of following a religious practice.

              Now, if i bought something that said “communion wafer” without any other words modifying it I might be able to claim harm because I didn’t get what I paid for.

              However, when words modify other words they tend to change the meaning of those words. If you don’t check to see what the change is then you are the one at fault for not being personally responsible.

  14. Jack, I think it might be time to re-institute the David Manning Lie of the Month.

    It was a great way of making the point that a lie that no one believes is still a lie, and thus still wrong.


  15. Five Guys isn’t a certified kosher chain. NO deeply observant Jew would ever step foot inside. In orthodox Judaism, it’s either kosher or it isn’t. There is nothing kosher to be found inside a kitchen that isn’t certified kosher. This is no different than getting a ‘kosher pickle’ on a bbq pork sandwich! As far as Five Guys is concerned, for those of us with a brain, we equate ‘kosher style’ with simply being all beef.

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