Oilers donairs: Food replaces T-shirts in arena promotion

As if a 4-0 Edmonton Oilers lead in Game 1 of their playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings wasn’t good enough, what was announced at Rogers Place during the next TV timeout nearly blew the roof off the downtown arena.

“Everyone was like, ‘No, they can’t be serious, can they?'” Gord McQueen, who was in attendance for the Monday matchup, told CTV News Edmonton on Friday.

The Oilers’ Ice Crew appeared in the aisles, their T-shirt guns loaded with some unusual ammo: Donair.

“It was tightly packed in this foam cylinder, and then finally got to the donair itself, and then lo and behold it was pretty fresh, still a little bit warm,” said McQueen, who was one of the lucky recipients of a saucy salvo.

For Game 2, even fans in the Ice District plaza’s so-called Moss Pit got in on the handheld, street-food staple of a pita, seasoned beef, tomatoes, onions, sweet sauce and — because it’s Edmonton, not Halifax — lettuce, finding new meaning in the word ‘donAIR.’

Dan Cote-Rosen, the Oilers Entertainment Group’s vice-president of marketing, said reaction to the catapulted cuisine — called DonAir Force Ones — “has been so positive for us.”

“It’s great to see the fans having fun like we do as we kind of came up with this idea,” Cote-Rosen told CTV News Edmonton.

The donairs — 60 are pitched into the crowd per game — are made in-house about 10 minutes before launch and fit perfectly into a T-shirt cannon.

The delicacies are also encased in a soft thermal delivery device for safe projection, and a warning is given to the crowd ahead of launch.

“You might say “warn”, you might say “prepare,” but yes, we’re making sure that no one’s going to take a donair off the dome unintentionally,” Cote-Rosen said.

The idea to use donairs in place of T-shirts came from Pittsburgh, where in March, Oilers game presentation director Lindsey Gullett watched Penguins staff launch hot dogs into the crowd during a game, said Cote-Rosen.

“Lindsey loves to say ‘What if?’ He loves technology but, most importantly, he loves donairs as do most Edmontonins,” he said.

“The donairs fit into the guns, and we figured out a way to safely encase them, and I guess the rest is history.”

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