Yesterday’s Associated Press article, “Legal Beef: Sara Lee, Kraft Escalates Wiener War,” spotlights two hot dog brands (Sara Lee’s “Ball Park Franks” and Kraft’s “Oscar Meyer”) caught up in a terse cycle of sue and counter-sue. Their bone of contention? Which brand has the right to advertise to America that they’re the best.

Reportedly, Sara Lee and Kraft have co-slapped one another with false-advertising suits, and will step up to bat during the court case that’s set to begin next Monday.

It’s difficult to figure out how Ball Park’s claim as “America’s Best Franks” is even worth the thousands of pages of pretrial litigation filings already churned out by the dueling brands. Best apparently refers to best-tasting, and likely there is a forklift with a data deck on it somewhere that can “prove” consumers said so. The problem, of course, is that consumers say a lot of things, especially after eating a free hot dog at a taste test, but that’s not because they lie. It’s because direct questioning can only go so far.

The issue here lies with the brands. As a major league hot dog brand, you need to stake out more differentiated and defendable ground than “good, better, best.” Your brand sweet spot will be a compound of consumer expectations and your own unique answers to those expectations: your brand’s truly differentiated offerings. Consumers have heard the “the best” line before, and frankly, while winning stands possible, who wants to sweat blood and money over a “we’re the best” tagline anyway? Of course, that would mean you actually knew what consumers really want, and could market to that, instead of pointing to proof points.

Regardless, this war of superlatives is bound to yield an interesting legal legacy, as the results of this case will define the limits of false-advertising laws. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there; whichever brand wins the court case, the only court that matters is the one of public opinion. And that is always easy to measure. Just look at the last line on the balance sheet.