Thu Jul 15 09:53am EDT
In some ways, there have been cupcakes in professional sports for years. Like the weak teams at the start of a college football schedule, or the overly soft players mockingly compared to pastry.
Perhaps you think the New York Islanders employ a few cupcakes. Perhaps you think the New York Islanders themselves are a cupcake on the schedule of NHL playoff teams. The Islanders are apparently comfortable with all of it, because they are the first pro hockey team with an official team cupcake beginning next season.
Amy Brady, owner of Cupcake Gourmet in Huntington, has entered into an agreement with Savor, the concessionaire of the Nassau Coliseum, to split revenues from cupcakes she sells from a cart at Islanders home games.
But seriously: Hockey and cupcakes?
"I think it fits very well. I've watched the Islanders eat cupcakes before. I don't see it as a big jump," she said.
But seriously: Hockey fans and cupcakes?
For example, would she take it as a compliment or an insult to see one of her cupcakes fly over the glass and onto the ice to celebrate a goal or protest a call, as is hockey tradition with everything from hats to octopi?
"WOW!" she said, processing the scenario. "I think I would be sad to see it go to waste, you know?"
And would she be saddened or inspired if one of her cupcakes was, say, crumbled in the face of a New York Rangers fan who was invading the Nassau Coliseum cheap seats?
After a long, loud, somewhat sinister giggle, she said, "I'm going to have to say no comment. I'm going to walk the safe line on this one. I've seen the wars that break out at Islanders/Rangers games."
Yeah, but that was B.C.: Before Cupcakes.
Her relationship with the Islanders was confectionery before it became unconventional.
"A lot of the Islanders management come into my shop for cupcakes, so we became friendly. They gave me tickets to a game one night," she said. "I got hungry, was looking for something to eat, and I walked around the entire concourse and thought, 'Wait a minute: There are no cupcakes here. We need cupcakes as the Coliseum!'"
She started trying to convince Islanders brass to have a cart inside the arena. They liked the idea, and took it to their concessionaire, who surprisingly agreed to a deal.
Surprising in the sense that arena concessions are a monopoly and, frankly, not a place where you find small local businesses peddling their wares like a farmer's market. Cupcake Gourmet is only 2 years old, though it earned an "easy to feel like a child in a candy store" review in the New York Times.
Brady began to realize she had somewhat beaten the system. "I was very naive. I found out much later that it's a huge coup and a big deal," she said, citing shock and awe from other local businesses that had been banging on the door for years.
So what are her plans for the Islanders cupcakes? First, they won't all be in the team colors. "I'm going to throw some curve balls in there. Not everyone wants a blue and orange and white cupcake. You'll have people walking around with the orange and blue tongues," she said.
"Which might not be a bad thing: You stick out your tongue, show your team spirit."
Brady said there may be some player-specific cupcakes in the future, mentioning forward Trent Hunter(notes) as a possible inspiration. (We are, of course, hoping for the Rick DiPietro(notes) Cupcake, which is yours for 15 years but arrives as an empty wrapper.)
No word on the price of the cupcakes, but they've typically sold in jumbo ($3.50), regular ($2.50) and mini ($1.50) sizes at the shop. She said her cart will sell singles and mini boxes of four. There will also be cupcake giveaways during the game, and the cupcakes will be a part of the Islanders' kids' club.
That's a reason this deal is a significant one. Pro sports, and especially hockey, are chasing family dollars. Cupcakes are, like hot dogs, an inherently fun food that appeals to a younger demographic. So this could be "wave of the future" stuff if it works.
Furthermore, the inclusion of a small local business with one location could signal a change in policy that could see a better relationship between teams and communities all over the league.
For Brady, she's just happy to be in business with the Islanders and part of the cupcake revolution. (She'll appear on Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" soon.)
"Cupcakes are enjoying a time in history that they've never had before," she said. "I hope they haven't reached their peak yet."
In case you've ever wondered about the subtle differences between cupcakes and the current state of the New York Islanders, there you go ...