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Chew on This

Paul here, pinch-hitting for Phil, who has the weekend off. Interesting package-design news yesterday from Big League Chew, which announced that a girl will be featured for the first time on the product’s familiar pouch. This is something that probably should have happened a long time ago, but it’s nice that it’s finally happening now. The new package will start appearing at retail next month.

That got me thinking: Big League Chew was launched in 1980 and, of course, was meant to mimic chewing tobacco. I never chewed Big League Chew myself (I was in high school when it debuted — a bit older than the target market), but I umpired some Little League games in 1981 and remember that it was popular with some of the kids, who had fun pretending that they had a big chaw in their cheek, just like George Brett or whoever their favorite ballplayer was.

Nowadays, though, tobacco has largely been eliminated from baseball. Do today’s kids even understand that Big League Chew is a riff on chewing tobacco? If so, would they view that as a positive thing? It seems like a product whose concept may be obsolete.

For those of you who have young kids, is Big League Chew on their radar?

(My thanks to our own Brinke Guthrie for bringing the new package design to my attention.)

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And speaking of George Brett…: Nice cross-sport uni move by the Royals, who showed their support for the Chiefs in tomorrow’s AFC Championship Game by putting a Patrick Mahomes jersey on the George Brett statue at Kaufman Stadium. Here are a couple of additional shots (click to enlarge):

(My thanks to Lendsey Thomson for this one.)

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Click to enlarge

The real thing: Bittersweet moment for me last night, as I went to Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop in Greenpoint and visited my old Coke machine for the first time since selling it to Paulie last summer. I’m glad it’s in a place where it can be used and appreciated, but it still shook me up a bit to see it on someone else’s turf. It had been mine for 21 years. Sigh.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Absolutely gorgeous new throwback pullovers for Texas A&M. Probably makes them one of the best-looking college baseball teams in the country (from @atxaggie07). … The Phillies have had their St. Patrick’s Day caps leaked: white with a green bill and squatchee, with a green Liberty Bell as the primary mark, with a small clover towards the top of the cap (from @FSBabyHuey). … Houston’s Karbach Brewing Company is teaming up with the ’Stros and launching a line of tequila sunrise-inspired cans (from Ignacio Salazar and Al Gruwell). … HatClub has brought a 1985 Padres prototype cap to life. Here’s the actual prototype cap and jersey (from Shannon Shark). … Cross-posted in the college football section: Whoa, check out these awesome pics of Astros and University of Houston football players testing out the then-new Astroturf at the Astrodome in 1966. A bit odd that the ’Stros are wearing road unis, no? (From Nick Lineback.) … Some really great old Alaskan Little League unis in this gallery (from Christopher Piscotti). … Check out the caps Lakewood is giving away on Irish Heritage Night, Aug. 10 (from John Cerone).

NFL News: So yesterday, CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara sent us this picture of an awesome Bengals cap, taken on the field after the 1981 AFC Championship Game. This led to a long discussion where multiple Twitter users posted their own helmet caps, culminating in Chris Murphy posting a pic of the entire set, and an ad for them featuring Mean Joe Greene. Why hasn’t the power of nostalgia brought these back yet?!

College Football News: Also posted in the MLB section: whoa, check out these awesome pics of Astros players and University of Houston football players testing out the Astroturf at the Astrodome in 1966. A bit odd that the ‘Stros players are wearing road unis, no? (from Nick Lineback). … Here’s a really good Photoshop of Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall in a West Virginia uni (from David Cline).

Hockey News: We’ve probably covered this before, but just in case: Penguins C Evgeni Malkin wears two different gloves during games (from David Schucosky). … Color on color alert! That’s RMU in blue and Canisius in gold (from Matt Gajtka and Jonathan Hanna). … We’ve seen contrasting nameplates before, and we’ve seen nameplates below the uni number before, but have we ever seen contrasting, below the uni number nameplates? That’s Michigan Tech against Bemidji State (from DJ Belfey).

Basketball News: Memphis will wear throwbacks today against SMU (thanks, Phil). … Western University women went all pink for breast cancer awareness (from Ewan Williams). … It appears a Northwestern-branded ball had the Northwestern logo off-center compared to the Under Armour logo (from Jerry Kulig).

Soccer News: FootyHeadlines has leaked the colors of Manchester City’s 2019-20 away kit. They’re calling the accent color “peach” but let’s be real here — if the mockups are accurate, that’s pink. … German side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have gotten a new stadium advertiser (thanks, Jamie).

Grab Bag: Reader Jamie Tallman found and uploaded this awesome footage of Cuban Olympic athletes exercising in satin unis on their way to Rome in 1960. Highly recommended, even though it’s less than 30 seconds. … Rugby league team Toronto Wolfpack — who play in the British rugby league system — have launched their new away kit (from James Welham). … “What the hell is this skirt!??” asks Ken Weimer.

Comments (48)

    That Padres concept hat looks brown with an athletic gold monogram, but the concept uniform it is paired with doesn’t have any athletic gold, just brown and orange. they don’t really pair well at all. I do like the subtle notch cut out of the bottom of the D, making a P for “Padres” out of the negative space.

    The Big League Chew package in question was announced in October. Here’s the original tweet: link

    For a while I was wondering why I was sure I had heard about it before!

    Let’s not forget one of the originators of Big League Chew…

    Former Yankee pitcher and Ball Four author himself Jim Bouton

    The little leaguer in my house had had Big League Chew. I asked him if he knew what product it was inspired by; he guessed sunflower seeds.

    I wonder how George Brett feels about a Chiefs jersey on his statue. Might be a fun project to get reactions to that sort if thing.

    OK dumb question, but in regard to the George Brett pictures that have the back drop of their baseball stadium, what the heck is mid-way up the upper deck on the 3rd base side?

    Just a guess, but it is probably just wind-blown snow in between two of the ramps. I live in KC, and other than the ramps to the concourse, there are nothing but seats in the third deck.

    Yeah but there’s one on the first base side as well. I’m thinking they are suites? I checked the seat chart and there’s one named “George Brett” on the 3rd base side and the “Frank White” on the 1st base side. I could be wrong but I think that’s what they are.

    According to this map, it seems like it could be in the vicinity of the wheelchair-accessible seating (section 412):


    I was a Little Leaguer when I first found out about Big League Chew and had no idea what it referenced until I saw The Sandlot and their coming-of-age moment at the fair.
    Life Lesson: Don’t chew and ride the Scrambler.

    An even dumber George Brett statue question – how did they get the jersey over his arms and around his body?

    There must be stitching or an unseen zipper somewhere?

    I came here to ask that. An article on how they get jerseys on statues would be great uni watch content.

    Yeah I really want an answer to that. I just spent five minutes trying to visualize if it was possible to do it without cutting it

    For a time, they even sold Big League Plug — a wad of soft chocolate meant to evokeplug tobacco.

    I’m almost too afraid to ask, because I feel as though I’m missing something obvious, but how do you get a jersey on an immobile statue? Cut it and sew it? I’ve been staring at the photo trying to think of a way to pull the jersey over and get the arms through…

    Same here. I wonder this each time you see a statue with a jersey, but this one is especially confounding.

    The sleeve logo on the BLC package sure looks a lot like the Baseball Hall of Fame logo.

    And like many others, I had the same question about statue jerseys.

    Re Coke machines. Go to the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. It’s historical, tasty, and FUN.

    I just asked my ballplayers (12, 10 and 7) – the older two have heard of it, but don’t get the reference (they don’t even know what chewing tobacco is).

    They just think it’s shredded gum. One even called it “hash brown gum.”

    I remember those NFL helmet hats being made of a spongy foam like material that didn’t breathe at all. Not comfy afterwhile.

    And the inner band would disintegrate over time leaving tiny spongy pieces on your forehead. Nice idea but not executed properly.

    Both my daughters constantly keep a pack in their candy drawer. To them it’s just stringy gum and the love it.

    Have seen contrasting below the uni number nameplates before. In this case, appears done to differentiate between the company names on the back that sponsor the team. This team has a ridiculous amount on company names on the back compared to other teams in Senior A lacrosse.

    This is on the primary blue jerseys for the 2-time defending Mann Cup Senior A box lacrosse champions in Canada. The powerhouse Peterborough Lakers from Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse:


    Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop is great! Didn’t realize that was your old machine.

    My favorite thing is when your order is called through the fuzzy-sounding old bendy mic behind the counter. Takes me right back to my childhood.

    My daughter loves Big League Chew. She doesn’t know it’s connection to tobacco. I think that’s lost on most kids today. She’s had some candy cigarettes and understood that though…

    This is probably an obvious answer but does anyone know how they get the jerseys on statues like they did with George Brett’s? Do they have to split the jersey then pin it back together on the statue?

    Big League Chew likely got a boost in popularity in 2006 thanks to Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson and his “Gum Time” bit.

    I worked a baseball camp last summer and we used big league chew as prizes. Kids go nuts over big league chew.

    I have a 15 year old son who played baseball form age 4-14 (he got tired of baseball and does soccer n basketball only now). Anyway I coached a lot of during those years and big league chew was pretty popular amongst the boys and even the coaches too. We all knew it was meant to mimic tobacco. It was just good gum that was easy to separate and share with others. I don’t think that the ”concept is obsolete”. I still know a handful of guys who chew or dip. On a side note. Big league came around when I was about 11 or 12. I recall taking a large piece of Italian bread and stuffing it into my cheek when I was around age 8 or 9 to look like Sparky Lyle when I played ball outside my house.

    I recall taking a large piece of Italian bread and stuffing it into my cheek when I was around age 8 or 9 to look like Sparky Lyle when I played ball outside my house.

    One winter I was watching NFL Films. Joe Namath warmed up on the sidelines chewing a big wad of gum. Mom was baking so on my way outside I took some pie dough and stuffed it in my cheek. Chewed on that while I threw a football around in the backyard.

    And the only season I played park & rec baseball (1981) I had a pack of Big League Chew in my back pocket. The following year when I got into the 16-and-older softball league a year early I did not.

    I got both my daughters hooked on BLC a few years ago for their softball games. Ground Ball Grape is our flavor of choice. They are intelligent human beings and realize its not a gateway to heavier gum use. Don’t forget about Bubble Tape. Comes in a round canister like snuff.

    Funny side note… My older daughter (14) just read about this change to the packaging. She was annoyed by it. She said, “Why does everything have to be all-inclusive? Anyone can eat the gum. Just leave it the way it was.”

    I think she liked that it was something from my childhood that became a part of her childhood. And now someone’s changing something about it. I think she sees it as appeasement, rather than marketing.

    I went to Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop the other day — didn’t realize the old Coke machine was yours — and it weirded me out a little. It looks like a slice shop in the 80s that hasn’t been touched since then (other than the half-dozen or so flat-screen TVs showing Jeopardy). But I don’t think it’s been open very long — a few months, maybe. They paid a *lot* of attention to detail. The only huge tell is the [broken] Atari 2600 & TV set, which no 80s pizza place would have because it would have been stolen immediately. They should hunt down a late-70s/early-80s arcade game instead. But very cool nonetheless!

    My little leaguer says that he knows about Big League Chew. He says that he and his teammates chew it, but any gum will do. I have seen Big League Chew featured prominently in the concession stands at the large baseball facilities my son plays his Baseball tournaments at.

    I loved those early 80’s NFL helmet caps! I remember having the Bills hat. They need to make a comeback in 2019!

    Back in the 80’s I had a helmet het but it was the University of Illinois Fighting Illini. Cool hat but it was warm to wear. Also, add me to the “my kid chewed BLC” list. He’s 23 now but he always had to have a new pack for every game. It was easy to share with his teammates and fold up to put in his back pocket. I always ranked it up there with the gum from baseball cards.

    I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned to my son what Big League Chew was supposed to mimic, but we both love the taste of it! I will still buy every now and again when we see it.

    My mom would not let me have Big League Chew as a kid because she thought it WAS chewing tobacco.

    I’ve still never had it. I should get some.

    Regarding Big League Chew: my daughter (8) is an avid softball player, and was/is not aware of the “tobacco” connotation. She’s had Big League chew before, but it’s not nearly as popular as other brands (e.g. “Dubble Bubble”). In fact, my two kids (she and my son, 6), are not really aware of chewing tobacco at all, other than the scene in “Sandlot” (one of their favorite movies!).

    The big “Dubble Bubble Bucket” is ubiquitous at her little league softball games. Parents take turns supplying it, and one bucket only lasts a game or two – the kids probably chew 4-5 pieces per game!

    I was born in 1987, and had no idea that Big League Chew was a riff on chewing tobacco until I read Ball Four; in one of the afterwords, Jim Bouton mentioned that he came up with the idea as a less harmful alternative to chewing tobacco.

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