Urban Dictionary defines the term “dough boy” as… Ugh, you don’t even want to know. But the point is the same: Though none of us would ever forget the Pillsbury Doughboy and his infectious giggle, the term would seem to have a place in the general lexicon beyond one iconic advertising character. In fact, the word has had other uses for over a century including informally referring to soldiers or a baker’s apprentice. But after debuting in Pillsbury ads back in 1965, Doughboy was trademarked, and as one Albuquerque bakery found out, General Mills – the current owner of the Pillsbury brand – is not afraid to protect it.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Doughboy’s Bake Shoppe – which the owners say was named after a family member’s nickname – received a cease and desist letter from General Mills a mere two weeks after opening this past January. After a month of back and forth, owner Claudia Milladge, who says she couldn’t afford a lawyer, decided to simply give up. “We felt so bullied,” she told the Journal. “The first reaction is to throw a fit, but what can you do against a corporation like that?”
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Doughboy’s said its working on an agreement with General Mills that will give the bakery 180 days to make the major overhaul of changing its name, but even then, the expense – which includes revamping everything from signage to packaging to merchandise – is significant. Milladge estimates the cost will be somewhere around $10,000 – a hard price to pay for a business that’s only been open half of a year, especially when the company believes it had a legitimate claim to the name. “The shop is named after my father,” Milladge told the paper. “He had a bakery in Socorro for years and his nickname in town was ‘Little Doughboy.’”