Food Blog Feud! The Scanwich War



Well, it was bound to happen. Everyone and their grandmother now has a food blog, and the market is starting to look a little crowded. Most of us play nice with each other, but what happens when competing food blogs start to look a little too similar? Food blog feuds!

We love us a good blog war, but who to side with? As always, ES is here to be your judge and jury.

First Up: The Scanwich War.  Undoubtedly, many of you have recently come across Scanwiches, the latest hot food blog making a viral jaunt around the Interwebs. Jon Chonko, the NYC-based blogger behind Scanwiches, spends his workdays scanning cross-sections of his meals, and his drool-worthy shots of Reubens and Cubans are enough to make anyone leave for lunch at 10:15. The simple concept has gotten Scanwiches a whole blogload of praise. Serious Eats calls it delicious, Gizmodo proclaims Chonko a “genius”, and even our boy Andrew Sullivan has taken note. In short, the Scanwiches dude seems to be well on his way to a blog-to-book deal.

But there’s a slight problem with Scanwiches, and it isn’t just mayo stains on the company scanner. Turns out it’s not the most original idea ever. Another hungry NYC-er, Justin Bilicki, has been posting his own lunch shots on a site called Scanwich since 2007. Bilicki, somewhat understandably, is hopping mad about all the buzz for Scanwiches, and has updated his site to reflect its status as “The Original,” along with a few choice words for his new nemesis:

Over the past week or so my inbox has been flooded with mail saying “loved your site! You’re getting press!!” Blah, blah, blah. The scanned sandwich is gaining steam these days as the new site (just like this site but with a slight creative tweak. An S).   I have to ask, is this an original idea?

And for good measure, he takes an aesthetic shot at Scanwiches as well:

We are NOT affiliated with Our site is dedicated to the true beauty of the bread and everything in between. We post raw and unretouched images.

If you’re not confused yet, the Scanwiches guy hopped over to the Scanwich site to defned himself:

I didn’t know your site existed until a few weeks after I started When I found it I thought about contacting you but it looked like you had abandoned the blog and I couldn’t find an email. It may seem on your end like I copied the idea but it was actually a case of coincidence. The word “scanwich” is such an easy pun that its all over the internet in other forms. If you don’t believe that then I can’t help you. I’m not really much of a person for internet feuds so I’ll leave it at that. I think there’s enough room here for both of us to scan our lunch. I’m not a fraud or a rip-off. I’m just a guy who scans sandwiches. It seems like we have something in common.

Hmmm…OK, let’s analyze the evidence.

In favor of Scanwich, his claim to be the original certainly checks out. It’s really hard to protect your Intellectual Property on the web, and bloggers mostly just have to trust that other bloggers won’t steal their ideas. And while Chonko claims it’s just coincidence, he seems to be quite familiar with how the web works, and could have done a simple google to make sure his idea was original before launching.

On the other hand, Scanwiches had been left dormant for a couple of months, arguably leaving the door open for someone else to take the meme and run. And as Chonko points out, the Internet is a big place. If there’s room for 80,000 German fecal porn sites, there’s certinaly space for two sandwich porn blogs, right?

As Grub Street puts it, “The real rub is that Biliki had a good idea, and Chonko (who may or may not have seen it before he launched his own) does a good idea better…”

Speak up ESers, and issue a verdict…

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  • recipes2share March 25, 2009  

    great article – I just hope everyone can surface smiling!

  • Michael March 25, 2009  

    Food blogging really has exploded, but ES is still one of the best. When the food blog bubble bursts, the rest will be looking for bailouts

  • Ken March 25, 2009  

    I propose we split the scanwich in half, King Solomon style.

  • BunnygotBlog March 25, 2009  

    great article.

  • Britannia March 25, 2009  

    Maybe “Scanwich” can take the left half of the sandwich and “Scanwiches” can take the right half.

    Problem solved.

  • suuuufia March 25, 2009  

    I read about this on Huff Post several days ago.

  • Maids March 25, 2009  

    This article brings out my litigious nature and brings me back to my law school days. I almost want to write a brief detailing exactly why Scanwiches is so very much in the wrong. Almost.

  • gansie March 25, 2009  

    that was seriously a tough one. but i went w/ the originator.

  • Maids March 25, 2009  

    I can just imagine how “pisted” Gansie and BS would be if someone out there started a blog called endlesssimmering dot com or endlesslysimmer dot com. It would not be pretty.

  • gansie March 25, 2009  

    okay, we’re now officially starting an ES domain name fund so we can buy up all those websites.

  • Eick March 25, 2009  

    Hmmm, this subject is eerily prescient for me considering Deadspin just wrote about how an ESPN columnist may or may not have ripped off my idea for a meat bracket.

    I was going to write about the scanwich war tomorrow, but you guys may have covered it. Good stuff.

  • Heidi / Savory Tv March 26, 2009  

    Oh, I feel sorry for the original. Too bad he let the site stay dormant for so long though. It is a good argument to buy other versions of your domain name though, if possible. And, as they say, any press is good press.

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