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Kissed off! Jacques Torres will fight Hershey’s

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Brooklyn’s most-famous chocolatier won’t kiss and make up.

Days after Hershey’s threatened to sue DUMBO candy-maker Jacques Torres over a claim that his “Champagne Kiss” bon-bon infringes on the chocolate giant’s copyrighted “KISSES,” the Willy Wonka of Water Street fought back against Big Cocoa by launching a petition campaign to save his sugary treat.

“They don’t own the word ‘kiss,’” said Torres, who said he’d fight the candyasses at Hershey’s. “They are not going to tell me what I can or cannot do, and what I can or cannot make.”

Torres claims that his embattled Champagne Kiss — a square sweet made from milk or dark chocolate and Taittinger Rose champagne that is emblazoned with a red lip print and sells for $1.50 each — differs from Hershey’s mass-produced, foil-wrapped treat in name, shape, packaging, price, and, lest we forget, quality.

“I admire what they do — but what I do is not what they do,” he said.

To rally support for his embattled Champagne Kiss, Torres handed out 10,000 pieces of his signature candy to customers at his Manhattan and DUMBO stores on Wednesday.

The chocolatier told The Brooklyn Paper that even if he is forced to change the name of his candy or stop producing it, the ruling wouldn’t be a kiss of death for his shop.

But it would be a kick in the teeth to lovers of chocolate — and freedom — everywhere.

“It’s not a question of economics – it’s a question of principle,” said Torres.

Hershey’s declined to comment on the case and would not release the “cease and desist” letter that the Pennsylvania-based confections company sent to Torres last month, a development first reported by our sister publication, the New York Post.

The letter, which Torres provided to The Brooklyn Paper, claimed that Torres’s “kiss” could “cause consumer confusion.”

So far, consumers are backing Torres, with more 400 sweet-tooths signing the online petition, and hundreds of shoppers showing their support at ballot boxes set up at both stores.

“I’m behind Jacques,” said DUMBO shopper Sonia Sheri. “This is America. What’s next? Is the word ‘kiss’ going to be off limits for everyone now?”

The balloting was running about 100 to 1, but two shoppers at the Water Street store suggested that Torres give up the fight to save the “Champagne Kiss.”

“How about ‘smooch,” one of the no-votes read.

If Torres loses to the cocoa conglomerate, who knows what’s next? Perhaps his dark chocolate “Love Potion #9” treat will face similar litigation from the R&B group the Clovers, which recorded a song of the same name in 1959.

To sign the online petition, visit www.savejacqueskiss.com.

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Reader Feedback

Publius from Bklyn Heights says:
Does Jacques Torres share the same publicity agent at Two Trees?

Another non-story.
April 30, 2009, 9:49 am

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