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The Delicious Pie That Can Get You Sued

Do not mess with the one and only authentic Derby Pie.

That would be the trademarked, legally protected name of the yummy chocolate-nut confection invented in 1954 by Kern's Kitchen of Louisville, Ky., and traditionally enjoyed at Kentucky Derby parties.

Over the years Kern's has filed lawsuits against many who have illegally used the name of their signature pie. This year it's  against another Kentucky restaurant - Claudia Sanders Dinner House, the Shelbyville restaurant founded by the wife of Kentucky Fried Chicken creator Colonel Harland Sanders - the Associated Press reported.

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Kern's Kitchen is seeking an order stopping Sanders from using the term "Derby Pie" and is asking for more than $335,000 in damages, according to reports.

Kern's Kitchen hasn't hesitated to go to court to protect its Derby Pie trademark. The restaurant has sued to protect the copyright more than 25 times over the years, and the company's attorney said he sends out at least one or two letters a week asking people and companies to honor the trademark.

In past decades Kern's has sued Bon Appétit magazine and a Frankfort, Ky., restaurant called Rick's White Light Diner. Bon Appétit won a legal victory when a judge in 1987 found the name to be generic, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, the Associated Press noted.

In 1982 the Washington Post published a similar recipe for the pie, though avoided legal problems by calling it Not Derby Pie. The recipe was reprinted in the newspaper's new cookbook, out this month, and it's easy to make if you're planning your own Derby party.

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Not Derby Pie

(Adapted from The Washington Post Cookbook: Readers' Favorite Recipes, edited by Bonnie S. Benwick)

  • 1 8- or 9-inch unbaked piecrust
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream for garnish, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have an 8- or 9-inch pie plate at hand.
  2. Place the unbaked pie shell in the pie plate. Sprinkle the bottom of the pie shell evenly with chocolate chips.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Gradually mix in the melted butter, then add the nuts and vanilla. Carefully pour the mixture over the chocolate chips, in a circular motion so it does not disturb the chips. Bake for 1 hour, until the filling is set.
  4. Serve slightly warm, with whipped cream if desired.


Photo: Kentucky chocolate-walnut pie/Wikipedia Commons


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