Will the real Colin the Caterpillar please stand up? I repeat, will the real Colin the Caterpillar please stand up?
We’re gonna have a problem here.
The problem being not the adapted version of Eminem lyrics.
The problem is there’s a courtroom battle brewing about a caterpillar shaped cake called Colin – and it may turn out to be even juicier than the Wags at war battle between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy. If it isn’t juicier it will definitely be more chocolatey.
For non-UK readers what you need to know is this: A mid-range food, clothes and homewares store called Marks & Spencer brought out a chocolate covered cylindrical cake in 1990 and decorated it so it looked like a caterpillar.
They called it Colin because of alliteration and it became a mainstay of birthday parties. Its popularity among my friends and associates was probably mostly because it was coated in a layer of chocolate rather than in buttercream icing so if it got a bit smooshed in a bag on the Tube on the way to a pub it didn’t matter.
The bag bit is also important – as it was cylindrical and sturdy it didn’t need to be carried flat like a round cake would so could be shoved in a bag with a card and a bottle of prosecco.
It is probably popular with younger people too when they are too old for Paw Patrol and their parents cannot be arsed to message the local Facebook group asking if anyone designs cakes because their daughter wants a mermaid and sea scene.
But anyhoo, other food shops noticed how popular the cake became and they also begun to make birthday cakes shaped like caterpillars.
At the time of writing there are seven supermarkets which have a caterpillar cake on their shelves (or have had at one point).
And M&S is as mad as hell and isn’t going to take it any more.
It is so angry it is taking all of the other supermarkets to court for copyright theft. Nope, scratch that. It is angry but only enough to take on Aldi, a supermarket known for its low prices.
Yes, in a world where there are a multitude of caterpillar cakes M&S has decided to just take on one.
You may think it has done this because it thinks Aldi can only afford cut-price barristers so might give up without a court fight.
You might think, as some have speculated, that M&S perceives Aldi as an easier target than the other supermarket chains, because it is low-budget.
You may also look at the differences between all the caterpillar cakes and decide if they were placed in a police line up the Aldi offering and the M&S one look most like they are brothers who were separated at birth.
Whether they are too similar is for a judge to rule on in what could be the tastiest legal fight in history.
In a statement issued after the lawsuit was announced M&S said: “Because we know the M&S brand is special to our customers and they expect only the very best from us, love and care goes into every M&S product on our shelves.
“So we want to protect Colin, Connie and our reputation for freshness, quality, innovation and value.”
It is also playing the charity card by saying how important Colin the Caterpillar is to the Macmillan Cancer Support fundraising partnership. I’d suggest that a cake at a Macmillan fundraising coffee morning is a cake no matter where it comes from and that big corporations never give enough to charity, whether they have a chocolate cake product or not.
As a sort-of-response Aldi mocked up their caterpillar behind bars with the packaging cleverly changed to show the cake serving 12 years, not 12 people.
After all, what better way to respond to a looming court battle than by mocking up a chocolate caterpillar in the clink?
It has apparently also taken all its Cuthbert the Caterpillar cakes of the shelves, so it is taking this a bit more seriously than the social media team would have you believe.
The question is why now? Cuthbert has been in Aldi shops since October 2019 or thereabouts so what took M&S so long to take legal action?
Is it a case that the legal fight for the (copy)rights of chocolate caterpillars takes even longer than murderers on remand while waiting trial or have there been letters going back and forth between legal teams ever since the first Cuthbert hit the shops?
Or has M&S started the legal action now to ensure it is in the headlines and so in people’s minds when they work out where to buy their sausages to burn on the barbecue?
Obviously there is a taste difference between the two cakes – and Daily Telegraph writer Pip Sloan has helpfully munched her way through all of the caterpillar cakes to work out which one is the nicest – but I am not sure I buy the M&S idea that it puts a lot of love into its products to keep up the high standards its customers expect and they would apparently not want an inferior caterpillar out there.
The sandwiches are better than those from most supermarkets even though the meal deal offers are really poorly labelled so – in pre-pandemic days – people would rarely get the discount they were expecting and would often pay almost as much as Pret.
But a chocolatey cake shaped like a caterpillar definitely isn’t worth the trouble of an argument.
If M&S and Aldi don’t bury the hatchet now when will it end? Will an Aldi Christine the Chrysalis cake be swiftly followed by an M&S Cassie the Chrysalis or Penelope Pupa? Will there be a battle between a Bertie the Butterfly and Bryony Butterfly butterscotch cake?
One thing is for sure. Thinking about cake is making me hungry so I’m off to the fridge to eat a clementine.
Stay safe for another week!