Bake a Mean Spirited Censorship Pie with the Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF is celebrating the new inductees into its Takedown Hall of Shame with a new cooking show! In this episode, EFF staffer Parker Higgins bakes a "Mean Spirited Censorship Pie" -- which is what all have to call the classic Southern dessert formerly known as "Derby Pie," now that Kern's Kitchen in Louisville is threatening to sue anyone who posts a family recipe with that name.

It's sarcastic, carbtastic, and informative -- delicious!

Baking With EFF: (Not) Derby Pie, the Trademarked Treat


  1. [sigh] the things companies will waste money on.  “Welcome to the internet. It’s a brave new world, dumbasses.” I think I’ll have some pie.  I can still say “pie,” right?

  2. Maybe someone with more knowledge can comment, but Wikipedia claims that the recipe was created by the Kerns, who also gave it their name.

    The Derby Pie was created in 1950 by the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky as a specialty pastry. The restaurant’s owners and Derby Pie creators were Walter and Leaudra Kern, who constantly researched the optimal recipe for their creation. They were assisted by their son George Kern. The name “Derby Pie” was chosen because the various family members each had a different name for the creation, so to resolve the naming quandary they put the various names in a hat, and pulled out the paper which said “Derby Pie”

    There doesn’t seem to be any controversy as to those details in the article (and the trademark is actually held by the creators rather than some other company), so this is not a generic recipe or name. Why is this so much more controversial than Coke not allowing you to make another cola product using their name (while you can have a guess at their secret recipe and call it a different name)? If it does turn out that people were using that term or recipe before the Kerns, I take it back. But EFF just says it’s popular in the South (like Coke, I guess).

    1. An English publication indicates the phrase “Derby Pie” was in use for a sort of meat pie far prior to the Kerns.  That meat pie was often a source of salmonella, which is why there’s a strain of salmonella known as “Derby Pie”

      1. That’s referring to an outbreak of salmonella from pork pies in Derby, which is a city in England. The pies were (and still are) known as pork pies. Since the pies are from the UK and not the USA, are a savoury and not a sweet pie, refer to Derby the town and not the Kentucky Derby and in any case are the name of the outbreak rather than the pie (the ‘best’ pies are called Melton Mowbray pork pies, and actually have protected geographical indication status), I don’t see how that would challenge Kern’s Kitchen and their trademark. Pork pies are still quite popular in the UK, although their reputation is for being generally fatty and unhealthy rather than being liable to give you salmonella. 

        I’m not saying the law doesn’t need to be changed, just that this is a bit of an odd case to be getting worked up about – no patent trolls, the trademark is owned by the creators, they aren’t claiming that you can’t make similar pies… they’re basically just doing the same thing that many companies would do – protecting their trademark from becoming a generic name or being copied, which is sort of what trademark law is about.

  3. Derby Pie actually predates the Kerns Inc trademark as a form of disease, B. Enteriditis, suffered by pigs and evident in the feces, as noted in this Google Books item:  — Read it, I can’t even make this stuff up.  Have fun eating your “Derby Pie”… what a marketing campaign!?

    1. So you’re saying you can get Derby Pie if you eat pig shit?  How do I know if it’s Derby Pie that gave me the shits?

      1. No, you get it if you eat shit pig. It actually came from the jelly that they use to cover the pork, which was left out to cool before putting in the pies over the pork. There was also a problem with preparing food on the same premises where the animals were slaughtered.

  4. The recipe looked interesting but too vague. There’s a lot there about the filling, but nothing at all about the pie case itself. I’d guess this to be expecting a fairly short crust pastry, but what size?
    Is there a default size for American pies? I realise that we clueless Europeans look at such recipes and ask “but how big is your cup”, but would an American automatically know that you should bake an 8 inch short crust pie case to hold the mixture without ever being told?
    Guessing that ‘stick’ is a standard measure of butter. How long is a stick?

    1. A stick of butter is equal to one quarter pound, or 8 tablespoons.  Butter in the US is most commonly sold in one pound units divided into four equal sticks.

      The standard American pie plate is 9 inches, and most pie crust recipes seem to make enough for either one or two crusts of that size.

  5. It’s interesting to note that homeopathic trademarks can retain their potency. I wonder if this works in double blind tests?

  6. I don’t know trademark law, so maybe someone can enlighten me. The trademark symbol is shown on “Derby-Pie” not “Derby Pie”. Does the TM automatically extend to all similar spellings? Can I make Derby Pye? Derby Pi? Dehrby’s Pie? Darby Pie? Derby_Pie? How does this work?

  7. Well, hold on, if debry pie didn’t exist before and Kern’s Kitchen have trademarked the name “Debry Pie” then they /have to/ show they are actively protecting it or they’ll lose their trademark to Trademark erosion

    It’s not like they’re trying to prevent anyone from posting a similar recipe, they’re just protecting their commercial name. It’s like if someone posted a recipe for “home-made Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups” or brewing instructions for “home-made Jack Daniels”.

  8. After reading more about the history of the Derby Pie, it seems clear to me that the pie is an original family creation, and not some classic Southern dessert as stated in the post. If it was a generic pecan pie, then I’d say the EFF has a legit argument. But it’s not.

    In my opinion it looks the EFF is bullying a mom and pop restaurant for defending their trademark. Is that really what the EFF stands for now and days? Seems like a poor use of their resources.

  9. For some reason it seems a little bit “off” to me that EFF doesn’t allow comments on their blog entries . . .

    In my opinion, this is not abusive behavior by the trademark holder, which actually did invent the dessert in question.  EFF needs to focus its efforts on the more legitimate targets out there.

Comments are closed.