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Picking the dogs at Air Canada Centre

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Stephen Williams

"Who let the dogs out" was just one of many tunes that set the theme for what could be one of Toronto's biggest taste tests ever.

On September 10, Air Canada Centre hosted 200 guests to taste and vote for the new house hot dog for the arena. Among the participants at Lord Stanley's Mug were fans selected from the Leafs Insider and Raptors Insider email programs, media personalities and the Raptors own dog, Jerome "Junk Yard Dog" Williams. Air Canada Centre's catering experts selected the three finalists to take part in the great hot dog search as the top contenders were narrowed down from a field of 11 entrants.

Although the mood was light at Lord Stanley's Mug, the task at hand was an important one: to select the gold standard hot dog for Air Canada Centre. Three stations were set up, one for each contender, and in true taste test style were identified only as hot dog number one, two and three.

"This was an important decision for our fans. We wanted to conduct this taste test in a way that would ensure unbiased feedback," explained Brad Long, Air Canada Centre's executive chef. "The only way to do it was to keep the brand names a secret."

With fans consuming more than 200,000 hot dogs a year it was a taste test to be taken seriously. Executive taste testers were also on hand including Ken Dryden, president of the Maple Leafs, and Richard Peddie, president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, who refused to disclose his preference citing that he did not want to influence the vote. The Raptor, the team's furry red mascot and noted hot dog connoisseur, gobbled up handfuls of each dog making it impossible to determine his preference.

Leafs announcer Joe Bowen and Leafs and Raptors TV producer John Whaley hosted the event and handed out door prizes of Leafs and Raptors jerseys and tickets to the Backstreet Boys concert later that week.

The votes will be tabulated and the official winner will be announced in late September.
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