David Chang’s Momofuku to stop ‘chile crunch’ trademark battle after outcry

Lifestyle

Momofuku, a food and restaurant brand started by food mogul David Chang, said it won’t defend its trademark on the name “chile crunch” after it sparked an outcry by sending cease-and-desist letters to other businesses using the term.

Momofuku started selling its Chili Crunch product in 2020, a crunchy spicy oil with dried peppers and other ingredients like sesame seeds and garlic. It’s a riff on the Chinese condiment chili crisp and other similar products from other countries. Different variations of chili crisp and other hot sauces have gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years.

Momofuku acquired the trademark for the name “chile crunch” from Chile Colonial in 2023. While Momofuku holds the trademark for “chile crunch,” spelled with an “e,” it also claims “common law” rights to “chili crunch” with an “i” and has filed for similar trademark status with the U.S. Patent Office for that spelling, which is still pending.

Story continues below advertisement

In March, Momofuku sent seven cease-and-desist letters to companies that were calling their product “Chili Crunch” or “Chile Crunch.” Most of the companies that received the letter were small brands founded by Asian Americans.

More on World

As first reported by The Guardian on April 4, several of the companies took to social media to complain the letters were unfair, particularly since most of the brands are small and David Chang and Momofuku are so well known in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Their complaints went viral, sparking a debate over whether Momofuku — or anyone — should be able to own the trademark of the generic sounding chile or chili crunch.


Breaking news from Canada and around the world
sent to your email, as it happens.

At first, Momofuku stood by its actions. It said in a statement it was obligated to defend its trademark or it risked losing it to a bigger company that might swoop in and copy their product if it wasn’t defended. But by Friday, the company reversed course and said it would not be enforcing the trademark going forward.

“Over the past week, we have heard the feedback from our community and now understand that the term ‘chili crunch’ carries broader meaning for many,” the company said in an emailed statement. “This situation has created a painful divide between Momofuku, the AAPI community we care deeply about, and other companies sharing grocery store shelves. But the truth is, we all want the same things: to grow, to succeed and to make America’s pantries and grocery stores a more diverse place.”

Story continues below advertisement

Michelle Tew, owner of Malaysian food brand Homiah, was one owner who spoke out on social media after she received a cease-and-desist letter from Momofuku on March 18 that said she had 90 days to stop selling her Sambal Chili Crunch products.

Tew said in an Instagram post that Momofuku’s decision not to enforce the trademark is “a step in the right direction,” but she hopes Momofuku does more to demonstrate its commitment to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

“I’m so grateful for this community that have spoken loudly in support of this and rallied around small businesses like mine,” she said in the statement.


Click to play video: 'Fiery Flavors: Spicing up sweet treats'


Fiery Flavors: Spicing up sweet treats


&copy 2024 The Canadian Press

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

He Thought He’d Be the First Black Man in Space — Now the 90-Year-Old’s Dream is Coming True
Single Mom Takes Her Kids to Surprise a “Friend” – But Something Else Was Waiting For Them
B.C. doctors, patients seek ways to reduce dialysis waste and curb its carbon impact
How to Start Saying No When You’re Afraid of Disapproval
This Song Explains The Laws of Success That Apply To EVERYONE ON EARTH!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *