When the Auto Industry Dabbles in Food

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Genevieve Fraser
Updated on Apr 27, 2022 · 4 min read
What do sausage, chili, and honey have in common? Why, iconic
car brands
, of course! Besides being delicious, these foods are often promotionally linked with automotive brands.
From Peugeot's top-of-the-line pepper mills to Porsche's environmentally-friendly meadows of honeybees, food is just as much a part of these brands as are steel and glass. It turns out that cars have more to do with food than just those stray
drive-thru french fries under the driver's seat
Several car brands have come up with their own branded foods, including Ford Performance, who created a hot sauce to advertise the Mach-E 1400.

The car brand and food crossover hits

Volkswagen’s currywurst sausage. According to
Volkswagen's Newsroom
, the German car brand has been dishing up its pork currywurst since 1973. In fact, this enormously popular beechwood-smoked sausage is listed as item #199 398 500 A in the official Volkswagen parts list! Around 30 employees at the company's flagship plant in Wolfsburg crank out approximately 18,000 of the moderately spicy sausages a day for shipment all across Europe.
Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit. According to
Car and Driver
, Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit also hit store shelves in 1973. The retired Formula One driver came up with the speedy recipe after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second time. What's his connection with chili, you ask? In 1967, he held the first of the world-famous Terlingua Chili Cook-Offs on his ranch in Texas.
That same year, the 1967
Shelby Mustang GT500
debuted—an update to his namesake Shelby Mustang GT350.
Kitchenware by Peugeot. The Peugeot brothers started a steel foundry in 1810 by converting the grist mill that belonged to their father, according to Car and Driver. The new company started out making umbrellas, bicycles, and other household goods and tools before offering their first coffee grinder in 1848. This was followed by their first pepper mill in 1874. Although cars (rather than food) might initially come to mind when you think of Peugeot, the company actually didn’t produce its first car until 15 years later.
In 1926, the kitchenware-focused Peugeot Saveur division and the brand’s car division became separate entities. Peugeot Saveur’s repertoire expanded to provide discerning buyers with other types of mills and kitchenware.
Peugeot pepper mills are highly regarded today and have won numerous awards, as recently as this year. The mills are truly shining classic examples of the blend between the culinary and automotive sectors. In fact, the original grinding mechanism is still being used after all these years! Now it's made using corrosion-resistant, case-hardened steel, and grinds spices, herbs, and salt, too.

There were some automotive-culinary mash-up misses

Restaurants created by car companies. While some car brands have enjoyed great success in the culinary world, others haven’t fared so well. A Brooklyn restaurant called A/D/O was started by MINI and lasted only three years before shuttering in May 2020.
Some automaker-created restaurants have, however, done well. The Pub Renault in Paris and the eatery Intersect by Lexus, with locations in New York, Tokyo, and Dubai, are two examples.
The GM Diet. One bizarre automotive-culinary crossover arose in the form of the “GM Diet.” The information surrounding this phenomenon is largely speculation, but the diet supposedly originated in the mid-to-late 1980s as a means of encouraging weight loss among GM employees.
GM claims that they did not create the food diet, but the legend lives on, regardless. According to Car and Driver, in a 2009 discussion with The New York Times, one individual quipped that the company’s drastic labor losses since 1986 could be thought of as “the real GM diet.”

Super exclusive foods created by car brands

Ford Performance’s hot sauce. Ford Performance came up with an insanely spicy hot sauce as a way to highlight the "scorching performance" of its Mach-E 1400 vehicle. So perhaps it’s only fitting that one of the team's drivers sacrificed his tongue to sample it! Since the sauce is not for sale, the closest you'll get to experiencing the burn is on the YouTube show Hot Ones, where driver Vaughn Gittin, Jr. and show host Sean Evans bravely tried it.
Car brands and honey. European car companies like Porsche, Audi, VW, and Rolls-Royce keep bees at some of their production plants. While the honey from Porsche bees is sold at their customer center in Leipzig, Rolls-Royce's honey is highly exclusive. Car and Driver reported that it's strictly reserved for guests only.
Fortunately, most of the other automobile-related foods mentioned are accessible to the general public and may be as close as your nearest grocery store or just a click away at online retailers.

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