The controversy over fried chicken ice cream erupted on July 15 when an acquaintance of Charleston-based entrepreneur Cynthia Wong tagged her in an Instagram post from D.C. restaurant Honeymoon Chicken (4201 Georgia Avenue, Washington, D.C.). The post announced the restaurant’s release of its vanilla bourbon Honeymoon ice cream bar which greatly resembled Wong’s trademarked Not Fried Chicken dish.
Wong, the owner of Life Raft Treats and six-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef, has spent years perfecting a dessert that looks exactly like a fried chicken drumstick, except this “chicken” is waffle ice cream with a chocolate “bone” and a crispy cornflake crust. To see it ripped off by another company angered her and her followers who left numerous comments on the post. “I understand the absurdity,” says Wong, “Democracy is dead, and the planet is on fire, and we’re all gonna be underwater, but I’m really pissed off about ice cream.”
Comments on the post range from “This isn’t even a well-executed ripoff of @life.raft.treats genius creation.” to “Wowwww looks like some bullshit to me.”
While it’s nearly impossible to own intellectual property rights over a food idea, Wong does hold the trademark for the name Not Fried Chicken, so technically Honeymoon Chicken didn’t do anything illegal, but just in poor taste not crediting the original creator. “As a woman, and a woman of color, you have to fight so hard, even once you’re established, to have ownership of your own ideas, and then things like this happen,” says Wong.
Life Raft Treats recently started distributing to D.C., so the original Not Fried Chicken is available for purchase at Foxtrot. Wong is worried that the Honeymoon Chicken version may lead to brand confusion or damage her brand, because her product is made in a facility dedicated to production of ice cream of the highest quality, and she believes the knock-off doesn’t put in as much effort.
Honeymoon Chicken did not respond to Eater’s request for comment at the time of publication.