Starbucks and UK baker in 'Duffin' kerfuffle
October 10th, 2013
12:45 PM ET
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The world has gone crazy for hybrid pastries.

In New York, fans continue to stand outside the Dominique Ansel bakery every morning to buy the fried, cream-filled hybrid known as the Cronut. Its popularity has since spread to London, and Starbucks looked to get in on the hybrid craze by unveiling their own “Frankenpastry,” a donut-muffin concoction called the Duffin.

On its website, Starbucks UK proudly noted that the company “sat together with our bakers” to create a pastry that combined “the iconic shape” of a muffin with “the elements of a traditional jam-filled donut.”

Sounds tasty, right? Not to Bea Vo.

The London-based baker and owner of four Bea’s of Bloomsbury bakeries immediately cried foul, alleging that she has been selling the “Duffin” for more than two years

“The doughnut muffin has been published in my cookbook back in August 2011, but we had been selling them in the shops since April (of that year)," Vo told CNN. "They were originally called doughnut muffins, but our customers christened them Duffins - like Brangelina!”

Vo describes her “Duffin” as having the qualities of three doughnuts: a sour cream doughnut with its “crispy crust and large airy crumb,” a cake doughnut with nutmeg notes and a British jam doughnut filed with raspberry jam.

The batter is baked muffin style, but Vo notes her creation is dipped in melted butter for the “doughnut” effect, which she says the Starbucks version fails to do. It is then rolled in sugar and injected with jam.

“(Starbucks) doesn’t dip them in butter, so I don’t know how they call it a doughnut muffin,” laments Vo. “It just looks like a jam-filled muffin.”

Starbucks UK put their “Duffin” on the market last week, and Vo’s fans immediately took to Twitter, accusing the company of ripping off Bea’s of Bloomsbury. Vo says that because her “Duffin” recipe was featured in her cookbook as well as online reviews, Starbucks UK couldn’t have come up with the pastry on its own.

But what angered Vo the most is the July decision by Starbucks’ baked goods supplier, Rich Products, to obtain a trademark for the “Duffin” name. Vo and her supporters worry that such a move could force Bea’s of Bloomsbury to stop selling the “Duffin” by that name.

“If Caesar Cardini trademarked ‘Caesar Salad’, we would have 100 different names for the same salad,” said Vo.

“I think there is enough evidence that ‘Duffins’ have been around longer than Rich Products’ version, so they shouldn’t own the trademark. I want everyone to be able to sell ‘Duffins’ without fear of legal retribution.”

Vo says she is currently looking at legal options, but admits that can be expensive. She also says her business may be forced to look at other options to “almost be a guardian” to the term.

The online fury has led to Starbucks UK to issue a truce of sorts. In a statement released on its website Wednesday, the company said it “discovered” that Bea’s of Bloomsbury, among others, sold “Duffins.”

The Statement also noted that: “neither Starbucks nor Rich Products has suggested to Bea’s of Bloomsbury that they will attempt to stop them from selling their own Duffins.”

Starbucks UK did not respond to’s request for comment. It is not known if Starbucks will introduce the “Duffin” or something similar to its stores in the United States.

Despite the détente, Vo believes Starbucks UK has failed to grasp the point when it comes to what many have called “Duffingate.”

“If you didn’t invent something, you shouldn’t trademark it," said Vo. "Baking is a craft built on innovation and layering new ideas that come from other ideas. But give credit where credit is due.”

Cronuts bake up controversy
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Filed under: Bakeries • Chain • News • Restaurants • Starbucks

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. chickis

    A series of true different colours is programmed in the display, and the transmission quick through spots

    December 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  2. JGN

    Oh and as for the Puffin or whatever, I could care less about the product but I feel bad for the Bloomsbury baker and feel they should get some settlement from Starbucks or at least a legal agreement not to interfere with her business!

    October 11, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  3. duffin

    So many donut and muffin recipes are so similar with other donut and muffin recipes, this is just stupid

    October 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  4. Gene2

    Great, another way for Americans to get even more obese. You Brits can't think of enough ways to get back at us for losing the Revolutionary War, can you?

    October 10, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  5. Donuts

    There's something wrong with that picture, don't know exactly what it is!

    October 10, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • duffin

      looks like to bloody nipples on a pair of cocaine covered boobs

      October 10, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
      • AleeD®

        My thoughts Ed Zachary. Interesting idea for a Halloween costume tho'. ~_~

        October 11, 2013 at 6:57 am |
  6. Chi Bur

    Theres delicious mindblowing cronuts in Santa Barbara, CA on State Street at a place called Spuds Bakery.

    October 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  7. Fiona

    It's still a heart attack in the making. I think it sounds revolting.

    October 10, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • BorgX

      Then thank God you have a choice as to weather or not you will eat it.
      Try to remember to give the same to others.

      October 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • rs1201

      I totally agree...after eating one make an appt with a cardiothoracic surgeon to unclog your'll need it...

      October 10, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • rs1201

      although I would never eat an entire cronut...I have to admit that I did taste was a very teeny piece of the pastry...I got it out of my system and continued with my salad.

      October 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Michael Weston@Fi

      Two separate subjects:
      -Eating one or two of these once in a while does not a heart attack make. Way to follow the party line.
      -Revolting? Have you gone back and read how self-righteous your posts sound?

      October 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  8. cali girl

    That picture looks like something altogether different.

    October 10, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  9. dan

    So...they combined a muffin and a donut and call it a "Duffin". They totally missed the mark. They should have called it a "Muffnut".

    October 10, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Greener

      Nice! I've had the first part, but I'm allergic to nuts.

      October 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • AleeD®@dan

      This deserved to be spelled out cuz it got me laughing out loud – right in the middle of the office.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:14 am |
  10. Aricsdaddy

    Not as interesting or tasty as the 'Scoffin/s' I made. They are a cross between a Scone and a muffin. Very light and fluffy, and absolutely awesome with some butter, Jam and cream.

    October 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  11. Galumbits

    Um. There's a coffee shop in Portland, OR that's been serving a muffin/doughnut hybrid for more than 15 years. So...yeah. Bea Vo, have you ever visiting Coffee People?

    October 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  12. mike.s

    Disney steals our culture, too. They built their business from the works of others – Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Mark Twain, etc. But now, they want to continually extend copyright so that others don't have a similar opportunity to build upon past culture.

    Intellectual property is an oxymoron.

    October 10, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  13. brandonreevey

    A former collegue of mine who is an independent artist, had one of her designs stolen by Pier One last week. They've since pulled the item. Naturally they claim that they were god and invented it, but really, someone in their art department saw it and decided to copy it. You apply that same formula here. I've worked as a designer for mass market for a few years now, and I can say that corporations rarely have some great product design epiphany, most likely they just lift otherss work while theyre doing "trend research" online.

    October 10, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • JGN

      You are absolutely right! I sell vintage fashion ideas to someone who buys for the industry and I can tell you that there is almost NO ONE out there in fashion world actually designing prints, patterns or shapes at all; just endlessly recycling them from other decades. I wish there were more support in this country for artists to design unique prints for the fashion world. It's getting so redundant out there.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  14. Al

    I accidentally smushed together my muffin and jelly-filled donut 15 years ago inside a paper bag. Do I get to trademark Duffin?

    October 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  15. Kerfluffle


    October 10, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  16. nkechi

    Those are boobies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  17. Professor Trollworth

    I think I went to university with a Duffin Kerfluffle...

    October 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • BO

      And I was elected President of The United States of America......SUCKERS.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • waste of a headline

        No were the president's dog!

        October 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
        • BorgX

          No he just humped the presidents dog.

          October 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
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