Legal fight centers on recipes of 'M-A-S-H' hot dog eatery

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Ownership of secret recipes and ingredients from an Ohio restaurant made famous on the TV series "M-A-S-H" is at the center of a legal dispute between a grandson of the original owner and the current ownership group.

Tony Packo's Toledo LLC has copies of the recipes and ingredient lists for the restaurant chain's famous spicy Hungarian hot dogs and chili, The Blade ( ) reported. The company was created by the late Bob Bennett, a local businessman, for the purchase and operation of the restaurant founded by Tony Packo.

But a grandson of Packo says in court documents that he has the original notebook his grandfather authored. Robin Horvath, who is in the process of bankruptcy, says in court documents that the ingredient list is separate from the recipes and wasn't purchased in the company's 2012 sale. Horvath has estimated the recipes could be worth more than $2.5 million.

A woman answering the phone at Tony Packo's Toledo LLC headquarters on Sunday said the company had no comment. A message left Sunday for Jennifer Fogle, an attorney listed as representing Horvath in the bankruptcy, wasn't immediately returned.

Horvath also claims control over a licensing agreement the Packo family signed in 2002 that paid his mother royalties for the restaurant chain using the recipes, which she said were given to her by her father.

A court-appointed trustee in Horvath's bankruptcy proceedings has filed motions to force him to turn over the recipes and ingredients list, because they could be considered potential assets and part of his bankruptcy estate.

A court previously determined that Packo recipes and ingredients lists were intellectual property and part of the restaurant assets under the 2002 license agreement, but it didn't appear to rule on who owns the actual notebook or other papers associated with the recipes in Tony Packo's handwriting.

Packo's became a household name in the 1970s when actor Jamie Farr portrayed a homesick U.S. soldier in the Korean War who longed for the hot dogs.

"If you're ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo's got the greatest Hungarian hot dogs," Farr's character, Cpl. Max Klinger, said on an episode in 1976.

The original Packo's remains a tourist destination and is decorated with "M-A-S-H" memorabilia.


Information from: The Blade,