Turns out the new Starbucks UK hybrid pastry the Duffin is even less imaginative than previously thought. A London bakery claims Starbucks ripped off their Duffin recipe, and then trademarked the term so that the bakery can no longer sell them. The scandal has even inspired its own Twitter hashtag: #Duffingate.
The bakery Bea's of Bloomsbury, with four locations in London, sums up its assumptions about what happened in a Facebook post: "I understand that Starbucks UK wants to cash in on this hybrid dessert craze--I get that. But to make a product that uniquely contains buttermilk, nutmeg, and raspberry jam, and to have the name duffin, not doughnut muffin, and to have claimed that their team of 'bakers' came up with it magically on their own, seems a bit odd to me, particularly when the British baking lexicon isn't heavy on nutmeg or buttermilk."
The Starbucks Duffin does appear to have the same basic components as Bea's. In their announcement blog post, Starbucks explains: "Our Duffin is filled with a raspberry jam; we've added just a hint of nutmeg to our buttermilk base and then covered it in sugar once baked." The bakery claims that because their recipe was published in their 2011 cookbook, and featured in online reviews (like this one by Zagat), Starbucks didn't just happen onto the idea themselves, but rather copied Bea's.
Bea's also learned that Rich Products has trademarked the term "duffin," which potentially means Bea's would not be able to sell their products with that name. (The trademark is from July 2013.) Bea's points out over Twitter: "Heard back from @starbucksuk who is claiming they did extensive searching and found no one selling the "#Duffin" online. really?" Bea's also claims that fighting the trademark would be cost prohibitive.
Starbucks UK has not yet publicly responded over Twitter or Facebook, or to the commenters on the Duffin announcement blog post. However, Bea's says Starbucks will soon release a statement permitting Bea's to continue selling Duffins. So stay tuned for that. Below, some of the key #Duffingate tweets:
Have discovered @starbucksUK and Rich Products have trademarked Duffins. They have power to prevent us from using the name we invented.— Bea's of Bloomsbury (@beas_bloomsbury) October 7, 2013
have to admit, #duffingate is wild. never thought I'd be in david vs. goliath thing, that I could be prevented from selling my own creation.— Bea's of Bloomsbury (@beas_bloomsbury) October 7, 2013
To make clear on our stance 1)--I don't think anyone should 'own' the name Duffin. It should be free to anyone.— Bea's of Bloomsbury (@beas_bloomsbury) October 8, 2013
2) Don't claim to have invented something that is a clear ripoff of my version of a doughnut muffin. Just give credit where credit is due.— Bea's of Bloomsbury (@beas_bloomsbury) October 8, 2013
This is why I'm against trademarking dessert names, but now I see why folks have to, if only to prevent large corporations from doing so.— Bea's of Bloomsbury (@beas_bloomsbury) October 8, 2013
Starbucks says its muffin-donut hybrid was "inspired by our muffins." Funny, for me, Starbucks muffins only inspire regret and despair.— Pete Wells (@pete_wells) October 8, 2013
· @beas_bloomsbury [Twitter]
· Starbucks UK's Sad Take on the Hybrid Pastry: The Duffin [-E-]
· All Starbucks Coverage on Eater [-E-]