UK retail giants squabble over caterpillar chocolate cake
London, United Kingdom: Two of the UK's biggest high-street retailers -- Marks & Spencers and Aldi have traded legal barbs over a cutesy caterpillar chocolate cake.
It's one of the UK's most peculiar legal squabbles, involving a chocolate caterpillar cake and two of the country's most well-known retailers.
Marks and Spencer have challenged its cheaper supermarket competitor Aldi, and the two high-street behemoths have exchanged social media barbs lately as well.
M&S' food store chain filed an intellectual property lawsuit in the High Court last week in defense of its trademarked chocolate-iced sponge character Colin the Caterpillar.
It claims that the German supermarket chain Aldi misled consumers with its "Cuthbert" cake, which is also packaged in green packaging and wants it to stop selling similar items in the future.
Aldi on Tuesday urged M&S to drop the legal action, tweeting: "Can Colin and Cuthbert be besties?"
Hey @marksandspencer can Colin and Cuthbert be besties? We’re bringing back a limited edition Cuthbert and want to donate profits to cancer charities including your partners @macmillancancer & ours @teenagecancer. Let’s raise money for charity, not lawyers #caterpillarsforcancer.— Aldi Stores UK (@AldiUK) April 20, 2021
"Hey, Marks and Spencer we're taking a stand against caterpillar cruelty," Aldi wrote.
It defiantly stated that it would sell a limited-edition version of the cake to benefit cancer charities.
We just want you to use your own character, M&S responded, suggesting "Kevin the Carrot Cake."
Hey @AldiUK we love a charity idea (Colin's been a BIG fundraiser for years). We just want you to use your own character. How about #kevinthecarrotcake ? That idea's on us... and we promise we won't do Keith 😉— M&S (@marksandspencer) April 20, 2021
Many have criticized the legal argument for being selective, pointing out that at least six other UK supermarkets offer caterpillar cakes close to the M&S version, with Aldi's version being the cheapest.
Aldi proposed on Tuesday that all supermarkets selling similar cakes with names like Curly, Clyde, Charlie, Morris, and Wiggles collaborate to "raise funds for charity, not lawyers."
Waitrose tweeted that its Cecil cake was a "group caterpillar...count us in!"
M&S Food, which specializes in high-end ready-made dishes, evidently worries that a partnership with discount retailer Aldi would leave a bad taste in consumers' mouths.
The store is well-known for its catchphrase, "This is not just food, this is M&S food."
This was parodied by Aldi, who tweeted, "This is not just some court case, this is #FreeCuthbert." It also included a photo of Cuthbert behind bars.
According to The Financial Times, the Colin cakes have been in production since 1990.
According to legal experts, the case hinged on whether Aldi's roly-poly birthday treat was similar enough to the M&S product to confuse consumers.
Colin is a popular M&S line, which includes themed Easter eggs and cupcakes.
He has a flower-decorated female counterpart named Connie.
According to the Sun newspaper, in a taste test, M&S's "dry" and "sickly sweet" Colin trailed Waitrose's Cecil.
However, the newspaper was unable to locate Colin since he had been out of print since mid-February.
Collin the Caterpillar
M&S's now-controversial Colin the Caterpillar cake was introduced about 30 years ago.
M&S was the first retailer to offer a caterpillar cake, although many retailers have since developed similar products.
Waitrose's Cecil, Sainsbury's Wiggles, Tesco's Curly, and Asda's Clyde the Caterpillar are among the other cakes available.
Except for modifications such as Halloween and Christmas, and associated merchandise such as Connie the Caterpillar, the presence of the cake has remained largely unchanged since around 2004.
M&S's relationship with cancer charity Macmillan revolves around Colin, and the retailer has created a Colin product for the annual World's Biggest Coffee Morning fundraising event as well, BBC reported.
The cake is a sponge of milk chocolate and buttercream filling, topped with chocolate candies and a white chocolate smile.
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF PA/ ALDI VIA BBC.