Small Bakery Changes Name After Legal Threat From Pillsbury Doughboy’s Lawyer

A small bakery that hasn’t even been open for a year is already having to spend thousands of dollars to change its name after General Mills took issue with the shop’s use of the term “doughboy.”

Two weeks after Doughboy’s Bake Shoppe — named after the nickname for the father of one of the owners — opened in January, the owners received a cease-and-desist letter from the food giant, reports the Albuquerque Journal.

Pillsbury did not create the term “doughboy.” Long before the baked goods brand launched the character on TV ads in 1965, it was used as a nickname for American soldiers during World War I, and using the term “dough boy” for a baker’s apprentice goes back more than 150 years.

However, Pillsbury trademarked the term and its giggly anthropomorphic embodiment; a trademark that was transferred to General Mills when it purchased Pillsbury in 2001. Which brings us back to the cease-and-desist letter sent to Doughboy’s.

The bakery’s owners say they felt “bullied” by the packaged food giant during the back-and-forth communications with the company.

“The first reaction is to throw a fit, but what can you do against a corporation like that?” one of the owners told the Journal.

Because she couldn’t afford a lawyer for her fledgling business, she applied for a trademark — which was denied.

“So we decided to take the friendly route,” she explained: Doughboy’s is now working with General Mills to make a few changes, including removing and replacing all signage, merchandise, and boxes — at an expense of about $10,000, the owners say.

The future name of the shop hasn’t been decided yet, however, there are some ideas. The bakery is also going to hold a naming contest.

“But now we are super paranoid,” the owner told the Journal. “We want it to be good, but it has to be super original. One name I like, but my husband is not super fond of it, is Albu-Cakery.”

The Journal notes that General Mills has gone after doughy names in the past: My Dough Girl, a Salt Lake City bakery, received a cease-and-desist letter in 2016 as well. That business also gave in to General Mills rather than go through an expensive court case.

“We worked closely with the bakery owners to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve the misuse of our trademark, which we have owned for more than 50 years,” a General Mills spokesman said in a statement to Consumerist. “We support thousands of small businesses with our products and wish them the best of luck with their bakery.”

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