Hershey, Pennsylvania is famous for its connection with the chocolate company of the same name. The SHL’s Hershey Bliss haven’t hesitated to exploit that connection. The team is names after a Hershey product, they play in an arena called the Chocolate Center, and they’ve offered several chocolate-themed giveaways. This week, however, marks the biggest connection yet between the candy company and the hockey team.
This week, the candymaker unveiled a life-size statue made entirely of chocolate that depicts the hockey team’s famed “Love Line” of LW Lance Sweet, C Justin Valentine, and RW Christopher Hart.
“A lot of us at Hershey are big hockey fans, and we love the Bliss,” said Hershey marketing executive Jack Tinker. “We thought this statue was a great way to show our appreciation for the team.”
The statue, which weighs over 800 pounds, took two months to complete. It was sculpted from “Hershey’s finest milk chocolate,” according to Tinker. Working from team publicity photos, sculptors created a quality likeness of the three Bliss stars.
Tinker said that the statue was inspired by Lenny, a 1700-pound chocolate moose statue found at an ice cream parlor in Maine. A Hershey executive visited the ice cream parlor on his summer vacation, and came back with the idea of doing something similar. After seeing a promotion for the Bliss in the local newspaper that featured the Love Line, the idea came together.
Hershey showed the statue privately to the Love Line last week, and all three players were impressed by the lifelike quality of the statue. “They even captured the way my hair flops around when I’m on the ice,” said Sweet. “I don’t know how they did it, but it’s awesome.”
“It’s like staring into a mirror,” said Hart. “A delicious chocolate mirror.”
“When you’re a kid, you dream of being such a big star that they build a statue of you,” said Valentine. “I never thought it would happen so soon… or that, you know, it would be made of chocolate.”
On Friday, Hershey publicly unveiled the statue in the lobby of its Chocolate World exhibit at Hersheypark. There were audible gasps as the assembled crowd beheld the statue, and dozens of phones and cameras emerged to capture it for posterity.
Next week, when the Bliss are back in town, the statue will be brought to the arena and wheeled onto the ice between periods. Bliss coach “Chocolate Chip” Barber said, “This will be an exciting moment for our fans. For me personally, I’m divided. On the one hand, I think it’s a great idea and a tribute to a deserving group of guys. On the other hand, I’m seriously peeved that I’m supposed to look at that much chocolate up close and not eat any of it. I might need to keep an emergency stash of bars in my pocket so that I don’t just run out on the ice and go after it.”
The Bliss are planning to build a refrigerated display case in the concourse of the Chocolate Center so that the statue can be displayed there in perpetuity. “We want to take special care of the statue,” said Bliss GM Scott Lawrence. “The last thing we want is for it to melt during the next heat wave.”