David Chang’s Momofuku seeks trademark for ‘chili crunch’

David Chang’s Momofuku seeks trademark for ‘chili crunch’David Chang’s Momofuku seeks trademark for ‘chili crunch’
via @momolongplay / Instagram
Carl Samson
April 5, 2024
Momofuku, the culinary empire founded by David Chang, is reportedly seeking exclusive rights to “chili crunch,” a term widely used for an Asian chili oil-based condiment.
Key points:
  • Momofuku filed a trademark application for “chili crunch” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on March 29, according to reports.
  • The company sent cease-and-desist letters to small businesses that use “chili crunch” in their product descriptions.
  • The move sparked discussions about the use of culturally significant terms and the implications of such trademarks on competition and cultural traditions.

The details:
  • Chili crunch is a chili oil-based condiment that includes crispy bits of chili, garlic and other spices. It traces its roots in China, with Lao Gan Ma debuting what it advertised as “fried chili in oil” in 1984.
  • Lao Gan Ma, however, has been using the term “chili crisp,” avoiding a potential conflict with Momofuku. Fly By Jing, another major condiment brand, is also calling their product “chili crisp.”
  • As it seeks the trademark, Momofuku sent cease-and-desist letters to small businesses that use “chili crunch,” including New York-based Homiah Foods and Seattle-based MiLa. Momofuku claims that it has been “offering” its chili crunch since 2018 and began selling jars in 2020.
  • The move has drawn backlash from the small business owners and others in the culinary community who argue that “chili crunch” and similar terms are generic descriptions of a culturally significant condiment.
  • If successful, the trademark will follow Momofuku’s exclusive rights to “chili crunch,” which it acquired last year as part of a legal settlement with Denver-based Chile Colonial, LLC.
What’s next:
  • Whether Momofuku registers the trademark remains to be seen. The process could take up to a year.
  • The company’s cease-and-desist letter demands that the other businesses stop using “chili crunch.” It gave Homiah, for one, 90 days to comply.
Share this Article
© 2024 NextShark, Inc. All rights reserved.