For some candy makers, this is the time for chocolate Easter bunnies. But for the local maker of Frangos, it’s time for litigation.
Fredericks’s Fine Chocolates Inc. is suing a tiny South Seattle candy maker, alleging the company stole the secret recipe for the bite-size, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates.
The president of Seattle Chocolate, a privately owned enterprise founded four years ago, said his company has done no such thing.
“The recipes they claim were stolen are original. They were developed in my kitchen,” Steve Elliott said Wednesday. “As far as I am concerned, we are a far superior product.”
Frederick’s alleges that Seattle Chocolate is making candies that look like Frangos, are packaged in six-sided boxes like Frangos, but don’t taste like Frangos.
“(Their) products remain inferior despite attempts to simulate the qualities of chocolates manufactured using … Frederick and Nelson’s recipes,” says the civil lawsuit filed recently in U.S. District Court here.
Attorney Stuart Dunwoody, representing Frederick’s, says Seattle Chocolate stole the secret recipe and sells the candies in the distinctive boxes - two things that could lead to public confusion.
Frangos chocolates go back to the 1940s, when the city’s landmark Frederick & Nelson department store began selling the candies.
When the regional chain shut down in 1992, its one-time parent company, Chicago-based Marshall Field, agreed to license the Frango name to The Bon Inc., for sale in the region’s Bon Marche stores. Frederick’s Fine Chocolates in Kent was designated to produce the chocolates.
Court papers note that Bruce Reed, a 15-year F&N; employee who was trained to make Frangos, resigned in March 1992 to work for Seattle Chocolate. In the months before his resignation, Reed transcribed company recipes for Frangos and obtained “intimate knowledge” of F&N; formulas, methods and techniques, the documents say.