The Washington Galaxy and Hershey Bliss have forged one of the SHL’s strongest rivalries. They have proven to be the strongest teams in the East since the SHL’s beginning. Last season, the teams battled for the division title all the way to the very last day. Yet in spite of their spirited competition, the Galaxy and Bliss have remained fairly cordial; the coaches and players largely seem to get along, as have the teams’ fan bases.
That may change going forward, as the Galaxy turned up the temperature on the rivalry this week with a controversial promotion that left both teams talking.
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Bliss at Constellation Center, the Galaxy asked each fan to bring a Hershey bar with them, but didn’t explain why. When the fans arrived at the gate, they were asked to turn in their Hershey bar. In exchange, they each received a Milky Way bar. The choice of the replacement candy bar was symbolic on two levels. The first is the obvious connection with the “Galaxy” name. Second, the Mars corporation (which manufactures the Milky Way bar) is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, a DC suburb.
“We wanted to offer our fans the chance for a superior chocolate-eating experience,” said Galaxy GM Ace Adams. “And we want to encourage them to support their hometown candymaker, not our rival’s.”
But the promotion didn’t end there. Between the second and third periods, the song “Candy Man” began playing over the arena speakers. A brown rabbit bearing a suspicious similarity to Nibs, the Bliss mascot, skipped out onto the ice pushing a bin full of the turned-in Hershey bars. He was greeted with scattered boos.
Suddenly, the Galaxy’s mascot Rocketman came out onto the ice, accompanied by a pair of talking M&M mascots. They came up to the rabbit and knocked him down, confiscating the bin of Hershey bars, as “Candy Man” stopped playing, replaced by “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Then members of Washington’s operations crew wheeled a wood chipper onto the ice. Rocketman and the M&Ms began feeding the Hershey bars into the wood chipper, with the spit-out fragments landing on the fallen rabbit. The fans cheered this display wildly.
Once all the Hershey bard has been shredded, the rabbit jumped up and ran off the ice, chased by the M&Ms. Meanwhile, Rocketman glided around the ice, flexing his muscles and tossing out coupons for Mars products. Meanwhile, the PA announcer crowed, “Welcome to the Hershey-pocalypse!” and stated that henceforth, “any fan bringing Hershey candy into the arena will be ejected,” which was met by a roar of approval. The crowd’s mood only improved after Washington completed a 5-4 win.
Washington coach Rodney Reagle was a big fan of the promotion and the attempt to stoke the rivalry. “Personally, I’ve always been a Snickers man, because the peanuts fill you up and help you make it through those afternoon blood-sugar crashes,” said Reagle. “But I’ll happily eat any of the fine Mars family of products. They taste great, unlike Hershey bars, which taste like somebody scraped them out of the bottom of a bird cage.”
The coach added, “I’m all for fanning the flames of this rivalry. I mean, it’s a little one-sided, since we’ve won all the titles. But hate makes the world go round – sports hate, anyway – and I’m all for stirring the pot. So come on, Galaxy fans: put a little hate in your heart!”
Bliss coach “Chocolate Chip” Barber objected to the between-periods display, saying “it’s a waste of good chocolate, and I can’t get behind that.” He added, “A lot of guys in this room took notice, and they didn’t appreciate it. We will proudly stand up for the superiority of Hershey’s chocolate any time. We know that America’s best chocolate comes from central Pennsylvania, and we’ll fight anybody who says otherwise.”
Asked if the Bliss planned any revenge for the activity, Barber said, “The best revenge will come when we win the division this year. But yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if our guys come up with something.”