In a further escalation of the long-running trade battle between the United States and the European Union, certain exports of American snack foods and treats are being scrutinized by the EU Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. According to Jean-Pierre Retard, Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Desserts, some of the packaging and branding of American foods is not in “harmony” with European labeling standards. Under EU laws, protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI) and traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) are restricted to regional foods. Thus it is impossible in Europe to buy champagne, burgundy, gruyère or camembert that did not originate in specific regions of France, while they can all be made in the same factory in New Jersey and sold throughout the United States without restriction. Some brands of American “cheese” products, notably those sold in pressurized aerosol cans, can be entirely manufactured from petroleum distillates without the slightest hint of milk from any mammal on the planet. Cheez-Whiz, for example, originated from an experimental version of Silly String, according to a prominent food expert. This looseness of description and labeling is frowned upon in the EU.
The first rumblings of the disagreement stemmed from the efforts of the American company Häagen-Dazs to sell ice cream in Europe. Despite the exotic-sounding name, the brand originated in the Bronx and its name does not mean anything at all in any extant language, although it resembles an obscenity in Etruscan. This was allowed after some debate. More recently, the proposed introduction of the Moon Pie was challenged by European confectioners and bakers on the grounds that the name misrepresented the origin of the product, and besides, it’s not really a pie. While that case was pending before the Directorate, another American company attempted to introduce another American confection also mislabeled as a pie, the Eskimo Pie. This caused an immediate uproar. Protestors from the quiescent dessert industry in France dumped ice, ice cream, and sherbet onto roadways, causing massive traffic jams and multiple-car pileups as drivers skidded in the sweet slush. French members of the European Parliament objected that Eskimo Pies were not only not pies, but they contained no Eskimos or Eskimo by-products, were not made by Eskimos, and in fact, Eskimos did not particularly like them. When the company was sold to a Canadian firm, the outcry was even louder, since Canada has an abundant supply of Eskimos.
While the EU ponders its decision, the makers of the original Whoopie Pie have returned to the laboratory to refine their recipe for the European market. To avoid the problems other American packaged desserts have had, Whoopie engineers are developing a product tailored to European requirements which will emit a rude noise when sat upon.