Each and every postseason there is one baseball element that captures the attention of sports fans everywhere... From Steve Bartman to the Rally Monkey, people love baseball and superstitions...
What happens to be this year's postseason frenzy? Well, it just happens to be tied to a promotional offer created by the produce company Love Me Tenders. Love Me Tenders is currently running a promotion offering a free "Love Me Tenders, the official chicken of the Cubs" t-shirt to all Cubs fans who purchase four (4) bags of Love Me Tenders and redeem their UPC's with an official redemption form. Love Me Tenders are sold at select stores in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
The problem that Love Me Tenders is facing with its "Official Partner of the Chicago Cubs" designation, is that their promotional territorial rights are limited to the Chicagoland area. Love Me Tenders is currently not legally allowed to sell the t-shirts and are seeking help from folks in the industry on how they can escape the restrictions to satisfy the existing demand for the shirts amongst Cubs fans around the globe.
But how exactly did the shirts become such a phenomenon? Check out an excerpt of the history behind the frenzy in a great article written by Nick Zaccardi on MLB.com:
The Cubs have a "good-cluck" charm. It's a staple of the clubhouse, more popular than Carlos Zambrano's bobblehead collection. It's a gray cotton blend T-shirt that hangs in most lockers, resembling that rag you throw on when everything else is dirty.
"Love Me Tenders, the official chicken of the Cubs," the shirt reads in red and blue letters. Everybody who's anybody can be seen wearing it at press conferences, while working out or under their jerseys during games. Why is it so popular? Comfort.
"Everybody wears them, everybody loves them," said starting pitcher Jason Marquis, who requested a few extra Love Me Tenders shirts to wear in the offseason. "It just feels nice on your body when you wear it."
It all started with a Zambrano photo op in April.
"Carlos put it on and immediately said, 'Wow, these are fantastic. I want to keep this shirt,' and he started wearing it around the clubhouse," said Matthew Wszolek, the Cubs' director of sales and promotions. "Next thing you know, it's monkey see, monkey do."
The idea for the shirt hatched in a coed softball league. A team comprised of marketing personnel for Love Me Tenders decided on the design for uniforms as a way to get the word out for the young company.
Love Me Tenders became the official chicken of the Cubs this season, and employees wore the shirts during promotional giveaways at home games. Once Zambrano took a liking to it, others quickly followed.
"In a week, we had a roster in front of us with every player's size," said Michael Myers, managing director for the advertising agency InStadium, Inc. "Every player wanted a shirt. It was nuts. It was absolutely ridiculous. We were just laughing. It's a softball team shirt."
Derrek Lee wore it for a five-minute interview on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" in June. Lou Piniella had it on during a postgame press conference after being ejected against the Marlins on July 26. In August, Detroit Red Wings hockey star Chris Chelios requested one to wear while singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and Ryan Dempster hooked him up.
Opposing players are catching on, too. At the request of Adam LaRoche and Matt Capps, Marquis sent a couple of shirts to the Pirates. They'll just have to cover up that pesky Cubs logo.
Anybody can get a shirt by filling out a form on the company's Web site, lovemetenders.com, and mailing in four UPCs.
Myers' softball team won its league title, so he likes to say the shirt is 1-0 in championships. That record will be put to the test during the next month.
"The Cubs make their own luck, we're not claiming anything," Myers said. "What we do is make good chicken."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
A Special Thanks to John Canaday of Banshee Music for his insider knowledge and contributions to this column.