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Chicken Vs. Kale: Artist Fights Chick-Fil-A Suit

 Bo Muller-Moore, known by some as the "Eat More Kale" guy, hand screen prints his shirts from his Montpelier, Vt., studio.
Toby Talbot
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AP
Bo Muller-Moore, known by some as the "Eat More Kale" guy, hand screen prints his shirts from his Montpelier, Vt., studio.

This is a story of David and Goliath — except it's kale vs. chicken. Vermont folk artist Bo Muller-Moore is fighting charges of trademark infringement from the Atlanta-based fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.

Muller-Moore runs a T-shirt business from his Montpelier, Vt., studio around the phrase "Eat More Kale." He got the idea 10 years ago from a farmer friend who wanted to promote local agriculture — and sell more kale.

Each year, Muller-Moore sells thousands of T-shirts, and at $25 a pop he makes enough to support his family.

"At a very pragmatic level, people up here really seem to love the hell out of kale — or hate it," Muller-Moore said. "So, I hadn't even really thought in terms of competition."

Then in August, to prevent any copycats, he applied for a federal trademark. That's when Chick-fil-A accused him of infringing on its trademark, "Eat Mor Chikin." The fast-food chain said that, like any company, it must defend its brand as well as its award-winning ad campaign, which features cows encouraging consumers to opt for chicken over beef. In a statement, Chick-fil-A said the law doesn't allow it to distinguish between large and small businesses.

But Muller-Moore isn't giving up — and he's got some powerful allies.

Chick-fil-A launched its award-winning "Eat Mor Chikin" ad campaign in 1995.
/ Chik-fil-A
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Chik-fil-A
Chick-fil-A launched its award-winning "Eat Mor Chikin" ad campaign in 1995.

At a packed news conference in downtown Montpelier, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin stood shoulder to shoulder with Muller-Moore as they launched Team Kale, an effort to raise money for Muller-Moore's defense through — what else — T-shirt sales.

"If you think that Vermonters don't understand the difference between kale and a chicken sandwich, we invite you to Vermont, and we'll give you a lesson about the difference between a kale and a chicken," Shumlin said. "There are some very distinct features that should be noticed in that difference. Kale is a vegetable; chickens are birds. Birds create manure; kale eats manure."

Chick-fil-A managers wouldn't comment for this story, but in a statement they said the company will continue to protect its trademark until Muller-Moore stops printing his kale T-shirts and turns over his website, eatmorekale.com.

So far, Muller-Moore's decision to fight Chick-fil-A has only been great for business. Over the weekend, he got so many orders that he's struggling to keep up — he's now working 14-hour days.

Win or lose, Shumlin said the Team Kale campaign is about sending Chick-fil-A's top brass a message.

"Don't mess with Vermont. Don't mess with kale. And, Chick-fil-A, get out of the way because we are going to win this one," he said.

Copyright 2021 Vermont Public Radio. To see more, visit Vermont Public Radio.

Kirk is a reporter for the NPR member station in Boston, WGBH, where he covers higher education, connecting the dots between post-secondary education and the economy, national security, jobs and global competitiveness. Kirk has been a reporter with Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wis.; a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Mass.; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad. Kirk received his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. When he's not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K's on the Wall at Fenway. You can follow Kirk on Twitter @KirkCarapezza.

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