You may have noticed that The Food Section logo looks a little scantily clad. Gone is the subheading/tagline "All the News That's Fit to Eat," a parody of the New York Times' famous slogan, "All The News That's Fit to Print."
Two days ago, I had the surprise of receiving a cease and desist letter from the New York Times demanding that I immediately remove the "All the News That's Fit to Eat" tagline because, in their words, the "use of this similar slogan capitalizes on the good will and reputation associated with the Times's trademark and constitutes trademark dilution and infringement."
Since I have neither the resources, time, or energy to defend myself against the risk of a lawsuit, I regret to inform you that I decided to cave in.
However, I remain perplexed as to why the Times decided to pick on me. I couldn't be the first person to create a spin on the Times slogan. Even a cursory google search of the phrase "all the news that's fit to" will produce more than 750,000 results -- web site slogans, article titles, books, and even a couple of music albums. Take theyankeeuniverse.com ("All The Yankees News That's Fit to Print"), for example, or prrag.com ("All the news that's fit to spin"), or thebrushback.com ("All the sports news that's fit to print"). Here's just a small sample of the many words that have been transposed with "print": ridicule, byte, fund, aggregate, depress, strip, censor, trip, tint, fake, and dis (my own personal favorite).
All the News That's Fit to Sell, a book published by the venerable Princeton University Press, is for sale on Amazon, not to mention All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't) and All the Math That's Fit to Print. In the field of music, there's folk singer Phil Ochs 1964 album, All the News That's Fit to Sing; lesser known is the Mulchmen's release All the News That's Fit to Surf!
I could go on and on. But, if I've learned anything from my googling, it's that my attempt at parody was not so original. In fact, the idea of parodying "All the News That's Fit to Print" turn out to be one of the more hackneyed forms of expression in our popular culture. It's the "Mad Libs" of cliches.
The irony of all this is that not only is "All the News That's Fit to Eat" so obviously a parody, this entire web site is a play on the established food media.
So, was I annoyed when I first heard from the New York Times? Of course. And, I still am angry. But, I have realized that there's another way of looking at this entire episode. That the Times would take this little one-man operation so seriously that it would marshal its legal department against my alleged "dilution" of its brand tells me that the New York Times is paying attention to The Food Section, and that's a good thing. In a backhanded way, it's really very flattering.