Of Hockey, Hostess, and Alternatives to the Ding-Dongs That Run the NHL and Hostess

Of Hockey, Hostess, and Alternatives to the Ding-Dongs That Run the NHL and Hostess
When I was a kid, Hostess DingDongs looked like hockey pucks to me. And we've lost both to labor disputes.

Ever hear this old joke?

Hey, how are Hostess Ding-Dongs like hockey?

Answer: They look like pucks!!  

In the short space of two months, it's ironic that we've  lost both hockey from our schedule and Hostess Twinkies, CupCakes, Ding-Dongs, and Fruit Pies from our grocery shelves. Both due to labor disputes. Where billionaires meet millionaires. And executives meet the working class.

It's everyone's loss. 

Well, tis' the SEASON of INDULGENCE. I would  like to indulge in my gift of sarcasm and wit, as a tribute to the late Nora Ephron, who said all of life was hockey.....oops, make that "copy."  

Question: What do the NHL hockey lockout and Hostess have in common?

Answer :  SnowBalls! (get it? Ssss-no-balls)

Question: What traits are shared by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the Hostess Company Brass?

Answer: They're all Ding-dongs, Twinkies, and Fruit Pies!!

And doesn't it just make you Wonder....what are we supposed to do without Hockey and Hostess?

We're losing a lot of Bread....And Butter(Nut), too.  And we wonder if our NHL players are just loafing around. Or whether there will be another way for us to enjoy the Continental appeal of DingDongs on ice.... 

Okay, I'm done.

Thank you all for easing my considerable pain......and now, as Paul Harvey used to say....the rest of the story: 

Some of my earliest memories were of watching the Blackhawks play in the latter days of their contract with WGN-TV. My heroes were Keith Magnusson, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull. That was as central to my upbringing as begging my mom for the Hostess CupCakes she bought only occasionally for my brother, my sister and me.  I used to think that the ice on the rink of the old Chicago Stadium looked like the center of a Hostess CupCake. And the pucks reminded me of Ding-Dongs.

And to quote Mitt Romney: I' M MAD AS H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS!

As of today, 422 games have been canceled from the scheduled start of the season through the end of November. Among the canceled games included the annual Hall of Fame game between the New Jersey Devils and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, which was scheduled for November 9, and the Thanksgiving Showdown that was supposed to air on NBC on Black Friday. In addition, the 2013 NHL Winter Classic was canceled on November 2.

Most recently, games through December 14 were canceled on November 23, along with the 60th National Hockey League All-Star Game. (source: Wikipedia)

And since the Hostess Corporation shut down plants across the nation, issuing a man-made Zinger in the form of layoffs to 18,500 company employees the week before Thanksgiving and making E-bay finds out of  Cupcakes, Twinkies and Ding-Dongs.

That ain't no Ho-Hos, folks!  This is for real. 

That said, I'm resourceful. And positive. For I truly believe, when one door closes, another opens.  And for your holiday cheer, I bestow the following blessings, courtesy of:

AHL Hockey:

The American Hockey League  (AHL) is minor-league hockey at its best, combining family-friendly activities and promotions with lower prices and specials unavailable at hockey's highest level. The league actually began in the 1930's and is now in its 76th season. The Canadian-American Hockey League and the International Hockey League merged in 1936, forming the International-American Hockey League (the “International” would be dropped from the name in 1940).

Just like the BP Cup that determines the "champion" of the Cubs-Sox rivalry every year, all Illinois AHL teams vye for the Illinois Lottery Cup.

How do they win?  Throughout the 2012-13 season, the team with the best head-to-head record among the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Peoria Rivermen will be crowned the Illinois Lottery Cup champion.

As an alternative to the Ding-Dongs who won't settle the strike, here are some very creative, family-friendly options for your pleasure:

Chicago Wolves Hockey at Allstate Arena 

For a true "Howl-I-Day" celebration  Wednesday, Public Relations chief Lindsey Wilhite is issuing an invitation to all hockey-starved fans to attend the the closest thing to a down and dirty Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks game. It comes in the form of the Chicago Wolves (Canucks affiliate) and the Rockford IceHogs (Blackhawks).

The 7 pm matchup  is predictably family-friendly. Skates, the Wolves' mascot, is a hard worker.  Tickets are affordable at  $17-$50 at full price.  You can find a beer for under $10.  There's lots of games for kids and adults at every game. 

This rivalry is every bit as ferocious as the NHL level.

What's more, this team wins. They're in second place in the AHL Hockey standings for the 2012-13 season. The Wolves posted a 5-2-1-0 mark and .688 winning percentage in October, the team’s best opening month of a season since the 2007-08 squad went 6-0-1-0; after opening the season with eight games in a 16-day stretch from Oct. 13-28.

In their 17-year history, the Wolves have won the Turner Cup of the twice (1998, 2000) in the IHL and the Calder Cup twice (2002, 2008) in the AHL. The Wolves qualified for all except three postseasons (2005–06, 2008–09 and 2010-11 seasons), appearing in six league championship finals (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008).

The team holds the distinction of never having a losing season during its history.  You can find more information about Chicago Wolves Hockey at http://www.chicagowolves.com

Rockford Icehogs at the BMO Harris Bank Center

The rivalry goes both ways. As Mike Peck writes on his Icehogs.com blog, Rockford really benefited from the NHL lockout, getting Andrew Shaw, Dylan Olsen, and Brandon Bollig and Nick Leddy. Martin St. Pierre was a member of the Blackhawks from 2007-09.

The Blackhawks affiliate also benefits from the lockout by appearing on NHL TV and through their participation in the Blackhawks Ambassador series. For example, they ran this upcoming promotion on their website:

Blackhawks Ambassador Night/Mini Stick Giveaway :

Meet and greet Chicago Blackhawks Team Ambassador Stan Mikita.ambassadors-page-mikita-header.gifGiveaway:
First 2,500 fans receive mini sticks courtesy of U.S. Cellular.

Tickets range from $8 to $27 for VIP Seating. You can't beat that. For more information about the Rockford Icehogs, their website is http://www.icehogs.com.

Vernon Hills Capitals at Glacier Ice Arena 

Hockey for $10 per person? Plus all the beer, wine and soda pop you can drink?

Two seasons ago, the "Weekend Sports Report" team--Les Grobstein, Steve Leventhal, and I--did a promotional appearance at the Vernon Hills Capitals, with its home base at the spacious Glacier Ice Arena in Vernon Hills. Owner Warren Sundt is a master of creative promotions and fun. Case in point: I was a human bowling pin, kneeling on an icy sled, headed toward full-size bowling pins. Mercifully, no bruises.....and a lot of fun!

That's the deal in the Great Lakes Hockey League (GLHL), which  features players who have college hockey, junior hockey, and semi-pro experience in other leagues.

The Vernon Hills Capitals, the reigning back to back winners of divisional titles,  are a USA Hockey-sanctioned amateur elite team competing in the Great Lakes Hockey League (GLHL).

The GLHL features teams from Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and Illinois. Like the AHL, the GLHL has provided fast-paced, high-energy hockey to players and fans in the Midwest since 1937.

Last week, the Vernon Hills Capitals scored more than a dozen goals for the third time in team history to get back in the win column as they earned a 13-3 victory over the Brookfield Battalion Saturday night in Great Lakes Hockey League play. The Capitals (2-1-0) outshot the Battalion (1-1-0) 50-26, and took advantage of a four-goal outburst in the first 5:26 of the third period to blow open the game.

Vernon Hills captain Bobby Siers had a hat trick and five assists to lead the team, while Nick Cinquegrani and Dale Michonski added five points apiece. Siers now leads the GLHL in scoring with 12 points in three games.

Next weekend the GLHL livens up with the defending regular-season champion Capitals (2-1-0) taking on the defending tournament champion Fond du Lac Bears (0-0-0) in Fondy.

Alternatives to Hostess:

There's only one company that comes close to cloning the Hostess experience. Since 1960, according to their web site, Little Debbie® snack cakes have sold for less than other leading brands while providing quality products. I've had 'em. They're close.

Here's a guide:

 Swiss Rolls=Ho-Ho's

Chocolate Cupcakes=CupCakes

Cloud Cakes™=Twinkies

Cocoa Cremes=DingDongs

Snack Pies=Fruit Pies

Little Debbie® snacks are available in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, as well as on U.S. military bases throughout the world.

 Hope these suggestions will tide you over until the strike is settled, and someone else picks up the Hostess mantle. After all, Fannie May and Frangos are both back in business, albeit in different states. Happy Holidays from the Token Female!

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