In San Francisco, they're calling it the War of the Rices.
Thomas J. Lipton Inc. fired the first shot earlier this year when it placed advertising billboards touting its line of flavored rice dishes on the sides of 24 of the city's antiquated cable cars.
"Now for a real treat," the ads proclaim--a none-too-subtle dig at Rice-A-Roni, the rice dish that for years promoted itself as "the San Francisco treat."
The maker of Rice-A-Roni is unamused. "The cable cars are an integral part of our heritage and our advertising position," says Sandy Posa, vice president for marketing for Golden Grain Macaroni Co., bought in 1986 by Quaker Oats. "We consider them ours."