July 30, 2011
The most recent addition to the lineup of CFL snacks is something that's often been customized to reference particular cultural touchstones, but rarely sports ones: ice cream. It's also for a terrific cause, and in memory of one of the Saskatchewan Roughriders' biggest fans. Veteran Roughriders offensive lineman Gene Makowsky (who will tie Roger Aldag Saturday for the club record with 271 regular-season games played) is teaming up with Cold Stone Creamery to create "Geno's Gridiron Goodies". That's a sundae with mint, cake batter,almonds, marshmallows, pecans, chocolate shavings and caramel.The Gridiron Goodies will be sold at Saskatchewan Cold Stone locations through Labour Day, and $1 from each purchase will be donated to the Chris Knox Foundation.
The foundation is named after Knox, who died of alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (a cancer of connective tissues) at the age of 24 in December 2007, shortly after flying to Toronto with Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall to watch his beloved Roughriders win their first Grey Cup since 1989. His story inspired many, and the foundation attempts to carry on his legacy by providing opportunities to attend sports and cultural events for children and young adults under 30 who are battling cancer, in remission or receiving palliative care. It's great to see Makowsky involved with something that will honour Knox's memory and provide opportunities for young people in difficult circumstances.
Oddly enough, this isn't even the only ice cream venture involving Saskatchewan and the CFL, though. The Roughriders, whose merchandising efforts count for 55 to 60 per cent of league-wide product sales (according to club vice-president of sales and marketing Steve Mazurak), have found yet another way to expand their brand, partnering with Jerry's Food Emporium in Saskatoon to create the "Rider Pride" ice cream (seen at right). The brand was launched this week and is the Riders' first major venture into the world of frozen treats. It's available at Jerry's in Saskatoon, as well as Regina's Italian Star Deli, Casino Regina and Co-op food stores across the province.
The ice cream is made from a mix of Jerry's artisan premium spearmint ice cream and chocolate cookie crunch, and it's available in cakes as well as by the carton. A couple of Roughriders were on hand to try the brand at the Regina launch Friday, and offensive lineman Chris Best told the Regina Leader-Post he was particularly impressed.
"I'm not usually the biggest spearmint fan, but this is really good," Best said after his first few spoonfuls. "It's awesome, especially the day before a game, because we have to cool from the inside ... that's an important part of your pre-game."
Like many branding ventures, this one was a while in the making. Here's a video Jerry's produced to illustrate how they got to this point, complete with helpful gridiron overlay!
CFL foodstuffs aren't just limited to ice cream, though. From Fantuz Flakes to Dari-O's to customized Tim Hortons donuts and All-Dressler chips, there's been a substantial variety of edible CFL merchandising available lately. It's a great idea from this perspective; these kinds of products add something different than your standard jerseys and caps, and they bring some marketing visibility to the CFL as well. Here's a photo gallery of a wide selection of the products available thus far, including ice creams, chips, breakfast cereals and each team's customized Tim Hortons donut. Click on the thumbnails to see larger pictures.