Can Danish Butter Cookies Come From Indonesia?

Danish butter cookies – When is a Danish butter cookie not a Danish butter cookie? When it’s made in Indonesia, as Danisa cookies are. The Campbell Soup Company, which happens to own a competing brand of “Danish” butter cookies, recently complained about Danisa’s origins to the National Advertising Division, a self-regulation board where companies sort out their ad disputes before state or federal governments get involved.

The NAD’s investigation was sort of an existential meditation on the nature of cookie names. The Food and Drug Administration does have a published definition of what a “butter cookie” is: the only shortening ingredient used in the product can be butter. Anything else is a “butter flavored cookie.” That was part of Campbell Soup’s objection to the product: they performed lab tests on the cookies and found fat inside the cookies that was not from butter. If true, that would make the “butter cookies” label misleading.

What about the “Danish” part, though? The competitor claimed that Danisa cookies were really Denmarked up, from the crown and “Copenhagen” on the container lid to claims that the treats were “Baked following the original recipe from Denmark” and “Produced and packed in Denmark.” Are these misleading when the cookies are actually made in Indonesia? The NAD agreed with Campbell’s that it is, and that Danisa cookies need to cut back on the “Scandinavian imagery.”

Takari, the company that imports the cookies and sells them here in the United States, had a twofold argument. Here is our paraphrase:

  • They just import the cookies, and don’t know whether the cookies contain 100% butter or other shortenings.
  • Ads for the cookies that imply Danishness are “commercial speech protected under the First Amendment.”

Takari agreed not to import the cookies as they’re currently marketed, and won’t advertise them to consumers or to retailers using any of the contested language or Danish imagery.

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