Steak-umm is a Reading, Pennsylvania headquartered company known for its thin-sliced frozen steaks. Steak-umms are sold in supermarkets throughout the United States and are used for making homemade Philadelphia-style cheesesteaks. The company claims to be "the best-known sandwich steak brand in America" and to have "helped turn the regional 'Philly Cheese Steak' Sandwich into standard fare on America's dinner tables over four decades ago". The company also produces ready-to-cook hamburger patties that are available in "Original" and "Sweet Onion" varieties.
Steak-Umm had been previously owned by Gagliardi Bros., H.J. Heinz (under the Ore-Ida brand), and Pomfret, Connecticut-based TriFoods International. In 2006, Reading-based Quaker Maid Meats acquired the rights to the Steak-Umm brand name and associated intellectual property. The purchase of the Steak-Umm brand by TriFoods is cited in a formative Business judgment rule judgement of a Delaware Chancery Court.
The Steak-umm product was invented in 1968 by food technologist Eugene Gagliardi, who is also credited with inventing Popcorn Chicken. Gagliardi, who at the time worked at his family's meat-distributing company (Gigliardi Brothers) in West Philadelphia, created the meat as a softer alternative to steak sandwiches of the time. In 1975, the Steak-umm company was started, operating out of a meat-processing plant in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with the name coined by a friend of Gagliardi. The company was sold to H.J. Heinz in 1980 for $20 million, and marketed under its Ore-Ida frozen foods brand.
In April 1994, the Steak-umm brand was acquired by TriFoods International, Inc., a company which Gagliardi founded as Designer Foods, Inc. and held a minority share in. The company was moved from Pennsylvania to Pomfret, Connecticut. In 1996, Gagliardi would sue TriFoods in Delaware Chancery Court, after his employment with the company was terminated and he was removed from his Chairman of the Board position. On May 22, 2006, Quaker Maid Meats purchased the rights to the Steak-umm brand, manufacturing the product out of Reading, Pennsylvania.
In July 2009, Steak-umm brought suit against a Philadelphia grocery store and sandwich shop called "Steak'em Up" claiming trademark infringement. In 2012, Federal District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel ruled in favor of the owners of Steak'em up, ruling that the two establishments aren't direct competitors and there is no significant evidence that consumers are confused by the names.
According to inventor Gene Gagliardi, Steak-umm was created after putting beef through a grinder multiple times, mixing and molding it, freezing it, softening it, then ultimately slicing it.
In the 2012 lawsuit, Judge Lawrence Stengel described the product as "chopped and formed emulsified meat product that is comprised of beef trimmings left over after an animal is slaughtered and all of the primary cuts, such as tenderloin, filet, and rib eye, are removed. . . . The emulsified meat is pressed into a loaf and sliced, frozen and packaged."
- "Frozen Meat Retail Sales Hit $837 Million In USA Market". Quick Frozen Foods International. 2000-07-01.
- "About Steak-umm".
- Gagliardi v. TriFoods Int’l Inc., 683 A.2d 1049, 1052 (Del. Ch. 1996).
- Farr, Stephanie (April 24, 2012). "Steaks were high in meat company's suit vs. Philly chain". Philly.com. Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- Goldstein, Jacob (August 24, 2012). "In The Kitchen With The Inventor Of Steak-Umm". NPR. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- Pirro, J.F. (January 2013). "West Chester's Gene Gagliardi Jr.: Steak-Umm Inventor and Food-Industry Innovator; Though he's got 33 patents in the food industry, Gagliardi is best-known for Steak-Umm, an imitation meat product. And at 82, he's still ahead of his industry's curve.". Main Line Today. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- Saranac Hale Spencer (2012-04-23). "In battle over Philly cheesesteak trademark, Steak'em Up prevails". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
- Prokesch, Steven E. (October 14, 1985). "FOOD INDUSTRY'S BIG MERGERS". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- Haar, Dan (October 1, 1994). "State Purchases More Stock In Pomfret-based Trifoods". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- "Quaker Maid sweeps up Steak-Umm name". FoodProcessing.com. May 22, 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- "Steak-hmm". Philly.com. April 24, 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
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