Utah cookie war between Crumbl, Dirty Dough and Crave heats up

Crumbl is suing cookie competitors over 'confusingly' similar brands and packaging

The war in Utah isn’t over politics or drugs, it’s over cookies.

Crumbl Cookies, which has more than 300 stores in 36 states, has declared war on smaller competitors Dirty Dough (six stores in Utah and Florida) and Crave (nine stores in Utah and Florida) and is setting social media on fire.

“Are cookies really worth a lawsuit?” asked a TikTok user. For the founders of Crumbl, the answer is yes.

A Crumble Rocky Road cookie.

crumb cookies

The lawsuits began in May when Crumbl sued Dirty Dough and Crave separately, alleging in part that both brands’ “packaging, decor and presentation” were “confusingly similar.” Crumbl filed the lawsuits in Utah, where it is headquartered.

Dirty Dough fired back with commercials mocking Crumbl.

In one ad, a large SUV pulls up next to a children’s lemonade stand. A group of men jump out and tell the children to “stop all operations.” A young girl replies: “Are you crazy, why?” To which he replies, “Because you sell cookies – that’s our thing.”

Dirty Dough also launched a billboard campaign in Utah, including one that read, “Cookies so good – we’re being sued!”

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“It’s a silly situation,” said Dirty Dough founder Bennett Maxwell, “and it’s just, OK, we’re going to have some fun with it.”

He added: “Imagine pizza companies doing things to each other, right? Like sending pictures of a pepperoni pizza, filing a lawsuit and saying, ‘Look, your pepperoni pizza looks a lot like mine.'”

Crave co-founder Trent English also thinks Crumbl’s allegations are half-baked.

“Our branding is black and gold. [Crumbl’s is] pink and black. Their logo is… a chef in a hat. Ours is two overlapping cookies,” English said. “I don’t see any confusion at all. I think most people can tell us apart.”

Exterior of a Crave biscuit shop.

CNBC

Interior of a Crumbl cookie shop with company logo on the wall.

CNBC

Founded in 2017, Crumbl has 6 million followers on TikTok and 3 million followers on Instagram. It has reviewers rating its weekly cookie flavors.

In the lawsuits, the company claims the other two cookie makers stole its idea of ​​releasing new flavors every week.

“They don’t want us to do alternate flavors,” Bennett said. “Because I mean, you know, they invented that — the ability to spin and offer it for a limited time — apparently Crumbl invented it five years ago.”

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The Dirty Dough founder told CNBC that since the lawsuits were filed, social media surrounding the “cookie wars” has been great for business — with sales doubling. Meanwhile, Crave says the company has seen sales jump 50% since Crumbl’s lawsuit.

Exterior of a Dirty Dough Store in Utah.

CNBC

CNBC interviewed Crumbl co-founders Jason McGowan and Sawyer Hemsley in 2021 about their booming business. At the time, Hemsley told CNBC, “I pinch myself every day because we’re talking about sprinkles over the conference table. And – and pink frosting.”

After the lawsuits were filed, CNBC reached out to Crumbl for a response. However, the founders declined an interview request, instead emailing a statement, which read in part: “Crumbl has taken legal action against two companies for trade dress and trademark infringement, one of which stole Crumbl recipes and trade secrets.”

Dirty Dough founder Maxwell denied stealing Crumbl’s recipes. “Look again at our cookie, you can’t get any other product, you can taste it and it’s so much different,” he said.

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A head-to-head comparison of Crumbl, Crave and Dirty Dough marketing and packaging materials as set out in the complaint(s).

CNBC

Crumbl could face a hefty legal hurdle.

“It may be difficult for Crumbl to show that consumers mistakenly believe that the defendant’s cookies came from Crumbl,” said Dyan Finguerra-Ducharme, trademark attorney and partner at Pryor Cashman in New York. She has no connection to the case.

“Crumbl had a great idea – a whole business model that [is] Each week cookies are rolled and delivered warm in a box that fits the cookies exactly,” Finguerra-Ducharme said. “The problem is that Crumbl’s idea isn’t protected by intellectual property law.”

So could the case go before a jury?

“It could be dismissed by showing a judge that these marks don’t look the same for legal reasons,” Finguerra-Ducharme told CNBC.

“And if the marks don’t look the same,” she added, “then the cookie will crumble.”

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