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Cupcake Cart 'Imposter' Lands in Midtown

By Jill Colvin | August 23, 2011 7:00am
The new Cake vs. Shake cart on West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue.
The new Cake vs. Shake cart on West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

MIDTOWN — An “imposter” cupcake cart has popped up in Midtown, selling yummy-looking cupcakes and shakes under a questionable name.

"Cake vs. Shake" first landed on the corner of West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue about two weeks ago.

Mohammad Gaber, 54, who manages the cart with his brother, Nasser, said the idea for the mobile cupcake and shake stand was inspired by his family’s long-time love of baking, combined with a desire to sell something mobile, convenient and different from the average street food fare.

“I thought with my brother, 'What can we do, a new business?' We thought about the cupcakes,” he said. “It’s different from the chicken and rice and shish kabobs. ... This is a new idea in the market.”

The original Cake & Shake food cart says Cake vs. Shake is a copycat.
The original Cake & Shake food cart says Cake vs. Shake is a copycat.
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The only problem? The idea — and the name — are already taken.

“We have some imposters,” said Derek Hunt, 37, one of the owners of Cake & Shake, a cupcake and milkshake business that's been satisfying sweet tooths since 2009. Hunt said he first realized something was off when he began receiving calls from customers asking if he'd moved.

The Cake & Shake’s cart, which is painted baby blue, currently spends its days outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, serving cupcakes and eight varieties of shakes.

But don’t be confused, Hunt warned.

Unlike the knock-off, all of Cake & Shake’s products are made using organic sugar, milk, eggs and flour. The company also uses bio-diesel to run its van, solar power for lights and only biodegradable, compostable or recyclable containers

“A cupcake is never going to be healthy, but it’s going to be wholesome,” he said.

Pressed for an explanation, Gaber, who is originally from Jordan and now lives in Brooklyn, said in Arabic that while he was aware that other cupcakes carts exist, he didn’t realize just how similar the two concepts were before being approached by DNAinfo.

But he maintained that his focus on 12 different types of premium milkshakes separates him from the competition.

“This is my idea,” he insisted of the cart, which features a playful logo of a battling cupcake and milkshake and sells cupcakes for $2.50 for a medium and $3.50 for a large, as well as "frappe's" and fruit shakes for $4 to $6.

While Hunt said he was upset at first by the blatant rip-off, he says he’s trying to view the mimicry as flattery. He's also is in the process of trademarking the company’s name and said he will consider taking legal action if necessary.

“They’ve pretty much taken our name and our concept," he said. “You’re going to have to come up with a different name."

Reporting was contributed by Farah Adi.