You may think that swiss roll-related drama could be confined to episodes of The Great British Bake Off, but a legal battle being called the “war of the caterpillars” will soon be presented before much more legally qualified judges than Paul and Mary. (Though Paul is still scarier, tbh.)
UK retail giant Marks and Spencer is taking legal action to protect its iconic Colin the Caterpillar cake from imposters, namely Aldi’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar, which M&S lawyers say “rides on the coattails” of Colin’s popularity (via The Guardian). The original Colin the Caterpillar cake, which debuted on Marks and Spencer shelves in 1990, has become an icon of birthday parties and picnics — and has supported several spinoff products such as biscuits, chocolate pieces shaped like Colin’s face, and the slightly more disturbing, but doubtlessly delicious, cake jar.
“Because we know the M&S brand is special to our customers and they expect only the very best from us, love and care goes into every M&S product on our shelves,” a spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said (via Delish). “So, we want to protect Colin, Connie [Colin’s girlfriend, also cake, identifiable by her pink bow] and our reputation for freshness, quality, innovation and value.”
The war of the caterpillars is about public perception as much as public confusion
Like any intellectual property lawsuit, Colin’s lawyers are claiming that imposters such as Cuthbert muddy the waters, and lead to consumer confusion. But some fans are wondering why Cuthbert is being singled out for legal action as opposed to Waitrose’s Cecil the Caterpillar, Sainsbury’s Wiggles the Caterpillar Cake, or Tesco’s Curly the Caterpillar. On Mark’s and Spencer’s Instagram page, which recently asked fans to show support for “The Original and the Best” and featured the hashtag #OGColin, many followers pointed out that the Aldi cake did seem a bit too close to the original, including choice of color, face shape, and packaging. A few even speculated that the brands may have agreed to the lawsuit for publicity purposes.
But just because the lawsuit is quite serious, that doesn’t mean the parties involved have no sense of humor about a cake-focused lawsuit. This morning, Aldi shared a GIF on Twitter of Bruce Boggtrotter’s famous cake binging scene in Matilda and made a joke about destroying evidence using the hashtag #freecuthbert. They also shared a joke package redesign featuring Cuthbert behind bars and adding “years” to the “serves 12” badge.
While it remains to be seen how the lawsuit will play out in court, it’s clear that people love a good swiss roll with chocolate buttercream and a cheery caterpillar face. They just might want to make sure they’ve got the one they want before digging in.
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