The petition crossed my inbox more than a year ago. It was entitled, “Tradition, not Trademark,” (TnT) and they were moving to have the US Patent and Trademark Office remove the trademark for “Fire Cider” that Shire City Herbals had acquired. I signed the petition. At this point, a bunch of my friends had started talking on social media about their fire cider experiments. They posted pictures and recipes (and, frankly, I thought it looked and sounded disgusting, but that’s beside the point). Since “fire cider” seemed to be the latest trend in old-timey, all-natural cold remedies, it seemed that any attempts (let alone success) to trademark this tonic was, in fact, hording something that’s been around for ages.
I bought everything that TnT said. It seemed horridly unfair and unjust for Shire City Herbals (SCH) to take possession of an old folk remedy and prevent all others from making and selling it. TnT has recommended everyone boycott Shire City Herbals’ Fire Cider tonic, claiming that SCH is a huge mega-corporation out to bury smaller herbal companies. TnT has backpedaled a little on some of their claims, but they’ve offered no real apologies.
This week, I posted something to one of my social media feeds encouraging the boycotting of SCH Fire Cider. A certified aromatherapist friend of mine had posted it, so I thought she had the real scoop. Well, I was wrong, and so was my friend. I heard from someone from Shire City Herbals – one of the founders of that company. Apparently, they started making Fire Cider to sell in 2011; others started following suit. This is the way that usually works: A product hits the shelves that quickly gets a reputation for being from an old-fashioned, all natural recipe. All the folks who are interested in having some for themselves without having to buy it hit Google for recipes which they then post on their own social media pages, but maybe with their tweaks. It spreads from there. It seems that, in this case, someone (not one of my friends) started making Fire Cider in her own kitchen and claimed that SCH stole the recipe from her.
After perusing some information directly from Shire City Herbals, I’m left with a couple of impressions of this company. One, in light of everything with which they’ve had to deal, SCH has stayed focused on their own business, which led to their controlling their business growth. While I’m sure the antics of TnT were annoying at best, SCH seems to have worried more about what they were doing than what TnT was doing. Two, TnT’s call to boycott SCH’s Fire Cider backfired and proved that boycotts tend not to work. If anything, a call to boycott intrigues the non-customers (turning them into customers) and it makes the company’s loyal customers rally behind them.
TnT was using fear to promote their agenda, and I am ashamed to say that I bought into it. They created a fear that Shire City Herbals was going to monopolize the Fire Cider market, making it illegal for anyone else to make or sell it under that name. The thing is, I’m not even an herbalist in any commercial sense of the word, so no part of this ordeal was even going to impact my business. I guess the unspoken fear agenda could be, “If one company trademarks a generic folk medicine remedy, then what’s to stop other companies from trademarking other generic product names?”
It was, in fact, Shire City Herbals who first claimed the name fire cider, and the recipe they use is one they derived from one of the owners’ grandmother, as you can read about here. In light of a few years’ worth of trials, Shire City Herbals has not only managed to survive, but their business has nearly doubled.
Successful, outside-the-box thinkers and movers will draw their haters and critics, but they don’t stay successful by listening to the hatemongering of their critics, nor do they buy into the negative hype surrounding them. They create environments of positivity, focusing more on the good that’s going on than the bad.