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Mud Hens scoop up #foodfight title06/06/2013 11:32 AM ET
By Dan Marinis / MLB.com
The bigger, and sweeter, the better.
Merging the power of social media and the allure of ice cream, Toledo's enormous Fantastic Freeze Sundae devoured Durham's Nuke Dog, Lehigh Valley's Roasted Corn and Gwinnett's Knucksie in the finals to win the first-ever #foodfight championship and secure bragging rights as the best concession in Minor League Baseball.
"Mud Hens fans are loyal, passionate and proud of their team," said Craig Nelson, assistant general manager, food and beverage, for the Mud Hens. "We have the largest online following in Minor League Baseball, and when we asked our fans to vote for the Fantastic Freeze, they responded in a big way."
Whether it was beating out the other Gut Busters in the first round or eating up their International League rivals in the finals, Toledo took advantage of its passionate fan base and a variety of marketing channels to stir up interest.
"We utilized Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, our website, email, TV and radio broadcasts and in-game promotions to spread the word," Nelson added. "Many fans took advantage of being able to vote an unlimited number of times, and the ability to have Twitter retweets count as votes made it really easy for participants to get involved."
As the first winner of MiLB.com #foodfight, Toledo will receive a four-foot tall silver spoon to hang in Fifth Third Field, while all four clubs earn trophies recognizing their well-deserved wins in their first round categories.
What was Toledo's inspiration for creating such a one-of-a kind confectionery concoction -- 15 scoops of ice cream and a tower of toppings all served in a regulation-sized Mud Hens batting helmet?
"We were looking for a unique treat the entire family could share," Nelson recalled. "We thought, 'Everyone loves ice cream.' We collaborated with Toft's Dairy, a locally owned company, and came up with the Fantastic Freeze. This way if you like chocolate or Muddy's Sea Salt Slam and your child only likes strawberry, everyone's happy!"
Nelson noted that typically two or three Fantastic Freezes are ordered per game, which can become an event unto itself.
"A big cow bell gets rung every time one is ordered," he said. "And of course, all the fans cheer on the person, or persons, eating it!"
Also earning cheers will be the winner of the #foodfight grand prize, which includes round-trip air fare for four, hotel accomodations, tickets to a Mud Hens game and, of course, one Fantastic Freeze Sundae.
Has anyone ever single-handedly finished a Freeze?
"While it was designed to share, the very first person to order the Fantastic Freeze ate the entire sundae in 30 minutes," Nelson said.