A tiny London tea shop is accusing coffee giant Starbucks of gobbling up its idea for the duffin, a sweet, sugary doughnut-meets-muffin mashup.
And, as is only appropriate, the controversy is playing itself out on social media, and even has its own hashtag: #Duffingate
The rapidly unfolding story gained international momentum this week, thanks in part to a prominent BusinessWeek story. The story described how Starbucks’ U.K. chain jumped on the food mashup trend earlier this month by unveiling a rich, moist cake that is filled with a raspberry jam like a doughnut, shaped like a muffin, and then coated in sugar for good measure. It’s name? The duffin.
It set the hybrid-hunting food world on fire. But it also raised the ire of Bea’s of Bloomsbury, which says it has long churned out duffins, and even townies (that would be a tart + brownies.)
Since then, the hashtags have been flying. And Bea’s is playing this out like a social media tutorial, seizing its moment in the spotlight like a boss. In addition to leveragingTwitter and Instagram, Bea’s is giving in-shop customers 15% off on duffin sales. Want to order some duffins online? The discount applies there, too… if you use the discount code “original.”
Bea’s is owned by an American baker, Bea Vo. She told the Guardian that the issue is not so much that Starbucks is selling a muffin-doughnut hybrid — it is not exactly a new idea, as British cook Nigella Lawson, for one, has a version. The issue, Vo told the newspaper, is that Starbucks’ pastry manufacturer is seeking to trademark “duffin,” a costly process that could give the coffee giant the ability to block Bea’s from using the name.
Vo told the Guardian that the name was originated with her customers, who enjoyed the doughnut-muffin so much they christened it “The duffin.” She says on her website that her tea shops have been selling the duffin since 2011, and even included a recipe for it in a cookbook.
We have submitted interview requests with both Starbucks and Vo, but did not hear back from them by the time this story posted. If that changes, we will update this post.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Times