What’s in a name – or – To Crumbs or not to Crumbs, that is the trademark

My life was transformed when the Crumbs cupcake shop opened on Amsterdam Avenue, in New York City’s upper west side back in 2002 or 2003.  If you haven’t been to Crumbs, you may have heard of them because of their January announcement of an IPO in the works.  It is expected that they will raise $100 million.

NPR proclaims “We were in the middle of a cupcake bubble of historic proportions”

But that is not the point of this post.  This is about the magic of memory and the importance of trademarks.

When I first found Crumbs, I was hooked.  Here was a magical place where you could buy oversized Hostess cupcakes, Reeses’ peanut butter cup cupcakes, Oreo cupcakes, M&M cupcakes, Devil Dog cupcakes.   I was smitten.

Crumbs website

Soon Crumps opened up in other locations across the city.  One location is near our office, which immediately transformed the birthday celebrations we have here.  Sure there was Magnolia Bakery, Buttercup Cupcakes and others.  They had their own pleasures.  But none came close to Crumbs in recreating the sheer joy of the junk food of my childhood.  It’s been decades since I had a real Hostess cupcake.

About a year and a half ago I noticed a change in Crumbs.  They didn’t have my favorite, the Devil Dog cupcakes.  Oh, sure, they had them but suddenly they had a different name.  And the Hostess cupcake was suddenly renamed “Squiggles”.  I was confused.  So I asked the person behind the counter about the disappearance of my favorites.

Turns out that they had received some letters from Hostess and other companies about trademark infringement.  Oops!

So the question I was left pondering was, does a squiggle cupcake taste different from a Hostess cupcake?  Do my expectations of the experience change if it is not connected to my memories of eating a Devil Dog on the way home from school?  Sadly, I think yes.  The story that I told my daughter about Devil Dogs, Yodels and Ring Dings didn’t have quite the same impact when I had to explain what a Devil Dog is.

Squiggle vs. Hostess

Life changes.  Crumbs moved from their original storefront into a big new building up the street, right below the Equinox fitness center.  The store is bigger, better lighted.  But when I asked the the Devil Dog cupcake, they knew I wanted the Devil’s Food cupcake.

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