College and professional sports offer the perfect environment for several strange team mascots. Here in the U.S. of A, a bear or tiger or some other animal just doesn’t make the cut anymore. Instead, we have a wide assortment of weirdos: “The Tree” (Stanford University), “Blue Blob” (Xavier University), “The Phillie Phanatic” (Philadelphia pro baseball), and “Whatizit/Izzy” (Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics). If you prefer downright creepy, look no further than “King Cake Baby” (New Orleans pro basketball). The Pelicans just won the #1 pick in this year’s NBA draft. They should keep King Cake in the closet ’til they sign Zion Williamson.
I’m an avid sports fan, so coming up with these examples was a no-brainer. I could add another dozen without too much thought. But even the weirdest of these characters – take your pick – couldn’t prepare me for a local newcomer, debuting next month alongside our minor league baseball team, the Rocky Mountain Vibes. Meet “Toasty – the fun-loving S’more“. You heard that right – a dancing, cheering S’more.
The Rocky Mountain Vibes – formerly the Helena Montana Brewers – must have a twisted front office. I’d like to meet one or two of their decision-makers. Consider the five finalists in their “name-the-team” contest:
- Colorado Springs Happy Campers
- Colorado Springs Lamb Chops
- Colorado Springs Punchy Pikas
- Colorado Springs Throttle Jockeys
- Rocky Mountain Oysters
If these are the finalists, I don’t want to see the rest of the entries. Happy Campers and Lamb Chops? What the heck is a Punchy Pika? And for those of you unfamiliar with a Throttle Jockey or Rocky Mountain Oyster, click the links at your own risk. I repeat, at your own risk. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
With a passing degree of intelligence, the Vibes nixed all five finalists and came up with their own choice. They claimed “Vibes” was something of a spin on “Happy Campers”; that euphoric feeling experienced in the Colorado outdoors. Whatever. Even without the reference, it’s a pretty good name.
Otherwise, this baseball team goes off the rails. The Vibes’ major-league affiliate is the distant Milwaukee Brewers (not the Colorado Rockies right up the road in Denver). They have five team colors – can’t wait to see those perky uniforms – “rubine” red, navy, gold, sky blue, and tan. They’ve never, ever won a minor league title. And then there’s that mascot. I can’t get past it; a dancing, cheering S’more? And then you had to go and name him “Toasty”?
If we’re just talking S’mores as a dessert – remove the Vibes – we’d be having a whole different conversation. I love a good S’more. Er, qualify that; I love a good S’more for about ten minutes. Then I’ve had enough for the next six months. It’s like those plate-sized German apple pancakes you gorge on at carnivals and amusement parks. They sound good and smell good, but you pay too much for one and you’re feeling sick after just a couple of bites. Don’t forget to wipe all that powdered sugar off your face.
S’mores are a basic, fun dessert. Like the wheel or the hamburger, the origin of the S’more is debatable. The most credible story in my book: a recipe published by the Campfire Marshmallow company back in the 1920’s. Since then S’mores have been a favorite of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (or just about anyone with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars, and a nearby campfire). You can order a S’mores Frappuccino at Starbucks. You can even purchase an “Electric S’mores Maker” on Amazon.
With no lack of embarrassing small-town flair, Colorado Springs has completely embraced Toasty’s upcoming debut. A handful of local diners want you to “Vote for Your Favorite ‘S’more'”, with the following choices (restaurant names omitted in a desperate attempt to save their reputations):
- S’mores cheesecake bar (“healthier” with GF graham crackers!)
- “Sweet Victory” Tableside S’mores (including mini-campfire!)
- Smoky S’mores Cannoli (apologies to Italy)
- Savory S’mores Lamb Chops (no comment)
- S’mores Pancakes (i.e. dessert for breakfast)
- S’mores Florentina (with rum flambé, naturally)
Mark your calendar – August 10th is National S’mores Day. You’ll probably get a free one if you’re watching the Vibes at the ballpark that day. As for me, I’ll be sitting at home lamenting our former minor-league baseball team, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. I’ve already forgotten the Sox mascot. Pretty sure it wasn’t a dessert.