Pink Sno-Balls?!? Somebody should sue!

I needed a snack this afternoon and went down to the vending machines. There I saw a package of “Mrs. Freshley’s” pink marhsmallow and coconut-covered Snow Balls, just like the kind manufactured by a division of the Interstate Brands Corporation (I forget if it’s Hostess or Dolly Madison).

I guess if you’re making sponge cake, cupcakes, donuts, or some other traditional pastry-type item, you can’t really get that patented - but pink marhsmallow and coconut-covered hemispheres?

That’s gotta be a lawsuit.
My questions are these:

1). Let’s start by supposing that IBC doesn’t own Mrs. Freshley’s (I don’t think they do). Shouldn’t they be able to sue them for copying not only the exact appearance, flavour, and texture of the Sno-Ball, but the name (“Snow Ball”) as well? Isn’t that like marketing your own golden sponge cake with cream filling and calling them “Tweenkies”?

2). If IBC holds the patent on the design of the pink marhsmallow and coconut-covered hemispheres, under what condition(s) could an upstart like Mrs. Freshley’s legally make and market them?

IANAL, but all my coworkers seemed to be able to quickly offer suggestions on the way patent laws like this might work. We’re all computer programmers; they (and I) really have no idea.

Long time RGMWer and ardent AOLer

I can report that Mrs. Freshley’s is actually produced by Mrs. Smith Bakeries Snack Group:

The item you inquire about is called “Fastball Snoballs” Item 4001062. Apparently they are 3 oz to the package and come in 48 packages per lot.

Little Debbie seems to do a lot of copying as well:

Swiss Cake rolls are very similar to “Ho Ho’s”
Golden Cremes are very similar to “Twinkies”
And even their cup cakes look familiar with the swirl design on the top.

I actually purchased the package of Snowballs this morning. They are in fact made by a division of Mrs. Smith’s bakeries.

Again, my question is related to the legality of copying a baked good which is obviously not something traditional like a cake or pie; calling it a “Snowball” (on the Mrs. Freshley’s package it’s one word) just seems to be a slap in the face to Hostess.

I have decided that I will E-mail the folks at Mrs. Smiths and see what they say.

Long time RGMWer and ardent AOLer

My guess is that Snow Balls as a type of pastry existed before hostess created Sno-Balls. Because of this copyrighting it would be like trying to copyright cupcake, or hamburger. I don’t think a recipe can be patented only the name can be copyrighted so you can make the exact same food product as long as you don’t call it be the same name, this is what makes generics possible.