The Akron RubberDucks, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians, will honor their local culinary heritage with an alternative identity for one game in 2024. The team will play as the Barberton Fried Chicken and Hot Rice, paying homage to a spicy food item that has its roots in a small town just 13 miles away.
The dish is attributed to Serbian immigrants Mike and Smilka Topalsky, who served fried chicken, rice, tomatoes, and peppers in a restaurant in the early 1930s.
„Fried chicken and hot rice have made Barberton the fried chicken capital of the world,“ said Jim Pfander, President and General Manager of the RubberDucks. „Generations of Akronites have celebrated special moments around this dish, and people from around the world flocked to Barberton to try this delicious, unique variation of fried chicken.“
Fried chicken and hot rice became a staple of the region, appearing on Food Network and PBS. It is still served at Belgrade Gardens, the family’s restaurant, in addition to other local establishments such as Hopocan Gardens and White House Chicken.
The game is part of the team’s „Only in Akron“ series and will take place on Friday, June 21st.