Gourmet Brownie Company Sues Bakery Goliath
ALLISON J. PUGH
Mar. 06, 1990
BOSTON (AP) _ A gourmet brownie maker is claiming in a federal lawsuit it was burned by a 71-year-old baking giant in Minnesota that allegedly stole a recipe and sold it under a new name.
The Boston Brownie Co. alleges McGlynn Bakeries of Eden Prairie, Minn., took the batter recipes for Boston Brownies and marketed them, with a few minor changes, under the name Classic Brownie Batter. McGlynn denies the allegations.
The U.S. District Court lawsuit filed last last month cites an agreement between the two companies in which McGlynn would manufacture the batter for Boston Brownie, and for its own store in Minneapolis. The agreement said the recipes were a trade secret and that McGlynn would protect them, the lawsuit contends.
Boston Brownies, which has one store in the Faneuil Hall marketplace, makes ''gourmet brownies'' in 20 flavors. In addition to the traditional fudge and fudge nut varieties, offerings include rocky road, mint, toffee, amaretto, kahlua, white chocolate macadamia nut and chocolate chip.
''It's my recipe, my process, my logo, and all of that,'' said Laura J. Katleman, the owner and inventor of Boston Brownie, which has sales of about $400,000 annually.
The Classic Brownie Batters, which McGlynn has marketed for about two years, also come in flavors such as rocky road, toffee, mint and amaretto, as well as chocolate, chocolate pecan, cherry, white chocolate chunk, and blond chocolate chip.
''Have you ever heard of amaretto brownies? Where did he get those flavors?'' Katleman asked Monday. What's more, she said, ''the fudginess, the ingredients, they read the same as mine. My chemist says for McGlynn to have come up with these formulas it would have been a miracle.''
Katleman said she was appalled by what she called McGlynn's lack of honor in allegedly fudging things so her brownies were sold under his name. McGlynn Bakeries is run by Michael J. McGlynn.
What made her particularly angry, she said, was ''the way he wooed me. He invited me to his home, I met his family. He was so warm and sweet, and to find out he was doing this.
''Maybe I am naive about the workings of big business, but his conduct in this whole matter was just appalling to me.''
Sales at McGlynn, which has retail bakeries and manufactures frozen dough and pre-baked foods, totaled about $100 million in 1989, McGlynn said in a telephone interview. He said the sales from Classic Batter Brownies comprised ''less than one-quarter of one percent'' of total business.
McGlynn declined to comment on any aspect of the suit, but a lawyer for McGlynn Bakeries, Jim Harlow, said the company denied all of the suit's allegations.
''We think the allegations of the complaint are groundless and the company intends to vigorously defend against them,'' said Harlow, who declined further comment. Katleman said McGlynn first approached her after he had sampled some of her brownies on a pass through Faneuil Hall.
''He was just enamored of the whole concept of gourmet brownies,'' said Katleman.
McGlynn wanted to lease the Boston Brownies recipe for franchise stores, but they could not agree on terms, Katleman said. Instead, they agreed to have him manufacture her batter, of which she needs ''a couple of thousand pounds a week,'' she said.
Last December, Katleman discovered the Classic Brownie Batters in a McGlynn catalogue, which she saw in the offices of another batter maker.
''The guy started to read down the list, Chocolate Amaretto, Rocky Road, and he asked me 'Are you sure he hasn't ripped you off?' I was just blown away,'' Katleman said.
The lawsuit seeks to restrain McGlynn from any use of Boston Brownies batter, recipes, products, formulas and processes. It also seeks damages, but Katleman said she could not name a specific amount.