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FVood P,,,eCvate , M March 1978 trial date for this half of the suit to be resolved outside the courtroom, too. It is understandable that none of the industry’s dominant brewers would want the Pearl case to come to trial, where the give-and-take would likely reveal as much about the ways and means of beer marketing as the testimony in James Ashley’s recent suit against Southwestern Bell has disclosed about business practices in the utility industry. Also, ‘regional brewers throughout the country are looking hopefully to the Texas case to produce a significant antitrust precedent against the sort of price-cutting arrangements alleged to exist between the big national brands and their distributors. It makes sense for Schlitz and Busch to want out, but why would Pearl settle? Officers, distributors and lawyers for the company remain tight-lipped on the subjecttheir silence apparently is part of the Schlitz settlement. But one source close to the lawsuit suggested that Pearl, now owned by the Houston conglomerate, Southdown, is likely to be bought out by one of the majors within the year, so perhaps the Texas firm is just clearing the decks for a merger. Challenge to Milford Dallas attorney Martin Frost will make a second try at unseating 24th district congressman Dale Milford in next spring’s Democratic primary. Milford, a former television weatherman now in his third term, represents a district left over after the state’s congressional boundaries were redrawn. On the map the 24th looks like the final piece of a maddening puzzle. It reaches from the Oak Cliff section of Dallas into the southeastern corner of Fort Worth, taking in Irving, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Euless, Six Flags over Texas, Ranger Stadium, and the Dallas-Fort Worth airport along the way. It’s a tough district to make sense of, much less win. Frost describes himself as a moderate in national political terms, adding that this probably makes him &liberal in Texas. Milford is a Democrat with a Republican-looking voting record and a reputation for not much of anything. Slow or not, he beat the socks off Frost in 1974, taking 58 percent of the vote. Frost is undeterred. He claims that he starts with greater name recognition this time around, and suggests that the incumbent’s poor voting record has caught the attention of the folks back home. The challenger expects to spend about $100,000 on the primary. Aggies make a pepper Others can continue roaming the backroads in search of the “Ten Best” jalapefios in Texas, but there is no question that the Observer has come across the worst one. No need to look further. It is in Weslaco. This sorry new fruit is no accident of natureit is man-made and, worse yet, taxpayers are footing the bill to develop the thing. Since 1970, researchers at Texas A&M’s Agricultural Experiment Station outside Weslaco have spent at least $84,000 in state and federal money to make a jalapefio pepper that isn’t hot. Dr. Ben Villalon, plant pathologist at A&M’s Weslaco research station, is the man to credit with this scientific feat. A \\good part of his career has been given over to these plants, and not for nothing do his colleagues call him “Dr. Pepper.” Villalon came across the strain of “polite” peppers while working in the Rio Grande Valley on control of pepper diseases. Since then, he and two assistants have devoted fully ten percent of their pepper research time to ridding the jalapeno of its reason for existing: throatsearing, sinus clearing, eye-watering, joyous heat. Why? Who wants a meek jalapefio? Church’s Fried Chicken, Inc., that’s who. The San Antonio-based fast-food chain, which does $150 million a year in sales from 700 outlets in 22 states, deals in truckloads of pickled jalaperios. Ac cording to Dr. Edward E. Burns, an A&M food technologist and “Dr. Pepper’s” mentor, Church’s and several other food firms that make spices, cheeses and bean dip are clamoring for a no-sting jalapelio. What in the world for? Well, explains Burns, “some of those Polacks or whatever you call them really love the hot ones, but on a general market, people don’t want them like that. The Yankees grab their throats and fall over in a snow bank.” Those of us who don’t give a hot damn about Yankees’ gastronomic preferences might wonder why the public’s agricultural scientists are messing with Mother Nature just so some food corporation can have a new product to hawk. If the fried chicken people want a sissified pepper, why don’t they pay for it? Or why don’t they just switch to sweet Hungarian wax peppers? Why is tax money and valuable scientific energy being spent on such silliness, when Texas agriculture is faced with serious problems like the projected loss this year of 3,000 farmers? Dr. Burns says a sweet-strain jalapefio will allow Texas to turn the pepper into a cash crop. Texas has “never produced our own,” Burns claimed. Then what are those jalapefio-looking-and-tasting things hanging from vines on 10,000 South Texas acres? Well, yes, those are jalapelios, but these homegrown natural varieties are too pungent, says Burns, so Church’s has to import its pickled peppers from Mexico. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13