Can You Copyright a Recipe?

All right, we’ve already caught Cindy McCain cheating once when it comes to family recipes.

Now it appears she’s been busted again.

Her Cindy McCain’s Oatmeal-Butterscotch Cookies recipe for the extremely influential Family Circle 2008 Presidential Cookie Bake-Off (influential because the winner of the last four bake-offs has seen her spouse win the White House) appears to be a near-exact copy of a recipe from the Hershey company, according to an article in the New York Daily News.

Commenters have two good points: Who really expects an heiress to be baking up home-style cookies in her kitchen? But because McCain is an heiress, couldn’t she, like, hire someone to develop a recipe for her, instead of what it looks like she did: have an aide do a random Google search for “cookie recipe” and grab the first one he finds?

Of course, recipes can’t really be copyrighted—that is, the ingredients and methods can’t be; but the exact wording is protected.

Further food for thought: Why does Mrs. McCain look so much like an alien in that last link?