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Battle of the Spin-Offs and Knock-Offs

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bombs: Can you tell the original and the knock-off apart?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bombs: Can you tell the original and the knock-off apart?

Jordana Rothman at Time Out New York has a fun story tracing the “clone rangers” and spin-offs of various popular NYC institutions. For example, alums of the tourist deathspot Magnolia Bakery spawned Buttercup Bake Shop, Billy’s Bakery, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, and Little Cupcake Bakeshop. (None are vegan-friendly, so check out Babycakes for your sugar fix instead.) Surely we have something just like this in the veggie world.

Vegetarian’s Paradise 2 went through the trouble (and expense) of trademarking their “World Famous Crispy Soul Chicken” after a former chef left to open Vegetarian Palate in Park Slope, Brooklyn and ripped-off the West Village mainstay’s signature dishes such as Peking Spareribs and Mango Chicken.

A former chef at Gobo ripped-off not only the fancy restaurant’s recipes and menu, but also a part of its decor – the collages of dried ingredients – when he opened Wild Ginger on the border of Chinatown and Wild Ginger Brooklyn in Williamsburg.

In Philly, Gianna’s Grille rips off Danielle Konya’s VeganTreats and tries to peddle their knock-offs with an air of authenticity with words such as “original,” “signature,” and get this: “Gianna’s vegan treats are available exclusively at Gianna’s! Accept no substitute!” (The lovely Danielle used to supply her cakes to Gianna’s.) Even more scandalous though: after telling their customers for years that they used a secret formula for their unbelievably meltable and stretchable soy cheese, Gianna’s Grille was exposed to have maliciously lied about their soy cheese being vegan. Though they now claim that everything labeled vegan on their menu is really indeed vegan, many vegans in the know still avoid and boycott the restaurant like the plague.


  1. Comment by


    on #

    Does anyone know if the vegan cakes available at Viva Herbal Pizzeria on 2nd Ave & 11th St. are the real Vegan Treats cakes, or the knock-offs? I remember hearing somewhere that they were the rip-off cakes from Gianni’s.

  2. Comment by

    Olivia Lane

    on #

    Umm…Babycakes doesn’t use sugar, as far as I know. They do have lots of sugar-alternatives–which do soothe the aching sweet tooth. I’m all about the Healthy Hos. Hos up, Fat-ass down!

  3. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    Sure, Babycakes uses sugar … it’s liquid and unrefined, but it’s still sugar!

    Edita – I’ve always felt liked the cakes at Viva were a little jacked, but I always figured it was just cause they were a week old and crammed into plastic clamshells. Maybe they are bootlegs, though?

  4. Comment by

    Olivia Lane

    on #

    re: Babycakes using sugar: Tricky hos!

  5. Comment by


    on #

    I made the Babycakes brownies from this recipe and they were way sugary. It bothers me that they pass that place off like it’s not loaded with the usual oils and sugars–and for exorbitant prices.

  6. Comment by

    Patrick Kwan

    on #

    Hey Edita, the cakes at Viva are the real deal. Check out Danielle’s website for a full list of where she provides her cakes.

  7. Comment by


    on #

    Whole Foods have the best vegan deserts.

  8. Comment by


    on #

    trademarking costs next to nothing… backing it up when someone infringes and then fights you on it is the costly part!

  9. Comment by

    Patrick Kwan

    on #

    According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office , it costs $325 to file for a trademark. If that’s “next to nothing” to you, care to send that amount to my attention? I’ll even take half of that! :)

  10. Comment by


    on #

    ah, you must know I meant for a business, not my own checking account ;)

  11. Comment by


    on #

    For sure viva herbal gets real vegan treats. The drag is that they slice the peices up smaller than any other place in town (that carries vegan treats). Head to Curly’s or Atlas for the most dessert for your $.