Two of my favorite things – chicken tenders and baseball – came together when a local minor league team rebranded itself for the evening.

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats played as the Manchester Chicken Tenders on June 4 to recognize the 1974 invention of the chicken tender at a nearby restaurant, The Puritan Backroom.

The double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays wore custom white jerseys that read “Manchester Chicken Tenders Est. 1974” and featured the blue and yellow color scheme of the New Hampshire flag. 

The team also doffed ball caps featuring a classic chicken tender design. Fans choose the design via pre-sale order back in November 2021, deciding between the Classic Chicken Tender, the Buffalo Chicken Tender and the Coconut Chicken Tender. (My chosen favorite, the Coconut Chicken Tender, pictured above, unfortunately was not the winning design).

For one night only, The Puritan Backroom sold its popular chicken tenders at the concession stands. According to the press release, the restaurant catered 10,000 chicken tenders, and I believe it. My husband and I both got chicken tenders with the restaurant’s signature duck sauce for dipping, as did most of the fans surrounding our seats.

Everyone benefits from a collaboration

A good collaboration is a win for both sports teams and food companies. And it can have a long-lasting impact. Taco Bell’s “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” campaign originated more than a decade ago, but I still can’t help but say “I want my free taco!” every time I see it happen.

In other stranger food/sports collaborations, Mark Light Shake, a vendor at the Miami University, created and sold a Buffalo Wing milkshake over the week. The company has a long history of creating specialized shakes that pay homage to teams playing at the stadium. The concoction, which pays tribute to Canisius College, includes vanilla ice cream, ranch/bleu cheese, hot sauce, chicken wing, celery and a carrot garnish. 

The New Hampshire Chicken Tenders represents a victory for both the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and The Puritan Backroom, making new fans out of baseball and chicken tender aficionados.

Unfortunately, the Manchester Chicken Tenders lost the game, but it was definitely a win for chicken tenders.