Small Bakery Learns Not to Mess with the Pillsbury Doughboy

Noam Galai / Getty Images
An Albuquerque bake shop is asking for help with a new name.

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?”

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.’”

In the meantime, Doughboy’s is trying to turn these lemons into proverbial lemon doughnuts, holding a name change contest on its Facebook page.

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