Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
The problem began just two weeks after Doughboy’s Bake Shoppe opened in January.
Owners Claudia and Mike Milladge received a cease and desist letter from General Mills, owners of the Pillsbury Doughboy trademark, among many others.
The letter was the beginning of a monthslong back and forth between General Mills and the small bakery in the Far North Shopping Center at San Mateo and Academy.
“We felt so bullied,” Claudia Milladge said. “The first reaction is to throw a fit, but what can you do against a corporation like that?”
General Mills, which has a manufacturing plant in Albuquerque, had not returned a phone message and email seeking comment as of Monday afternoon.
The Pillsbury Doughboy premiered as a character in television commercials in October 1965. Pillsbury was acquired by General Mills in 2001, and the Doughboy is still in use. This year, General Mills ranks 165 on the Fortune 500 list.
Doughboy’s, the bakery, is still getting up and running and doesn’t have a lot of money to spend, Milladge said.
Unable to afford a lawyer, Milladge tried the only thing she could think of. She applied for a trademark.
“It was denied,” Milladge said. “So we decided to take the friendly route.”
Currently, Doughboy’s is in the process of confirming an agreement with General Mills that would allow the small bakery 180 days to remove all signage.
While Milladge said she is grateful there is time to make the changes, she also sees a list of problems.
First and foremost is the expense.
In some ways, the name change itself is even harder.
“The shop is named after my father. He had a bakery in Socorro for years and his nickname in town was ‘Little Doughboy,’ ” Milladge said.
When she and Mike decided to open Doughboy’s, Claudia’s father, Tony “Little Doughboy” Jaramillo, came up and taught them how to make doughnuts the “old-school way.”
And that is what they do. Mike is at the shop every morning at 3 a.m. to roll the dough and make “old-school doughnuts” by hand.
“We have some ideas (for a new name),” she said. “But now we are super paranoid. We want it to be good, but it has to be super original. One name I like, but my husband is not super fond of it, is Albu-Cakery.”
Doughboy’s Bake Shoppe is not the first small business to receive a cease and desist letter from General Mills. In 2016, My Dough Girl LLC, a Salt Lake City-based bakery, received a similar warning.
Like Doughboy’s, My Dough Girl decided to concede rather than risk a drawn-out court case.
Doughboy, or a variation on that name, appears on at least a dozen different businesses across the country, from pizzerias in Fort Lauderdale to pool manufacturers in Arkansas.
Milladge said a lawyer from General Mills told her the corporation had received several letters from people confusing the name Doughboy’s Bake Shoppe with the General Mills brand.
Doughboy’s Bake Shoppe is trying to stay positive.
“We want to try and take this big negative and turn it positive,” Milladge said.
The bakery is holding a name change contest. Details are available on the company’s Facebook page. Prizes will be awarded, Milladge said.