Sea Dogs Biscuit gets pinch hitter while supply-chain issue persists

Grayson Turner, 4, of Fairfield eats a Blue Bunny Chips Galore Sandwich, which is being sold in place of Sea Dogs Biscuits because of a supply-chain issue. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Portland Sea Dogs fans with a sharp eye and a sweet tooth might notice something different this baseball season when the Sea Dogs Biscuit they purchase lands in their paws.

It’s not really a Sea Dogs Biscuit.

The minor league team’s signature treat, a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two soft and sweet chocolate chip cookies, is yet another victim of nationwide supply-chain issues – specifically, for ingredients in the melt-resistant ice cream that Gifford’s uses in the branded ice cream sandwich.

In its place, the team has been selling a similar Blue Bunny ice cream sandwich through a food vendor and another generic variety from a private local distributor.

The substitutes are sold under the Sea Dogs Biscuit name and for the same $4 price as the official version.

“We would have been more worried if we didn’t have an alternative option, but we do, which worked out,” said Sea Dogs President and General Manager Geoff Iacuessa.

In 2020, the Sea Dogs collaborated with Gifford’s Ice Cream of Skowhegan, which has supplied the sandwiches since April 2021, to create a unique ice cream formula for the Sea Dogs Biscuits.

“It is not sold in grocery stores or at our family-owned stands,” Gifford’s Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Skilling wrote in an email to the Press Herald. “The ice cream features a low butter fat content that helps to inhibit melting during a hot summer game at Hadlock Field. We have not been able to source the ingredients in the vanilla ice cream in the quantities needed to supply the Sea Dogs Biscuit.”

Joe Leonatti sells Blue Bunny Chips Galore Sandwiches, one of two substitutes being sold in place of Sea Dogs Biscuits, during a game Friday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Skilling said she couldn’t predict when the Gifford’s sandwiches would be back at the ballfield.

“We know how much this ice cream treat is loved and enjoyed at ballgames and that fans may be disappointed,” she said. “We continue to search for solutions, but at this time we’re not sure when the supply-chain issue will be resolved.”

Iacuessa said that fans have been overwhelmingly understanding, given how widespread supply chain-related shortages are right now.

“People have been great about it. Everyone is really understanding. I think people are just excited to be back in the ballpark for games,” he said.

This April was the first time since 2019 that the Sea Dogs played without cancellations or limited seating, because of COVID-19.

Fans at a game Friday were mostly accepting of the substitute ice cream sandwiches.

Curren McKenna, 9, of Brunswick enjoys a Blue Bunny Chips Galore Sandwich while watching the Sea Dogs with his brother Tobey, 21, on Friday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Nine-year-old Curren McKenna grinned as he bit into his Blue Bunny version, which has chocolate chips around the edges of the ice cream.

Even though he noted the softer cookies and additional chocolate, he said, “It’s still a Sea Dogs Biscuit.”

Phil and Katie Moore were walking away from a vendor, clutching three ice cream sandwiches, when they realized the lack of logo and the difference in the dessert.

“I’m kinda hoping they’re the same,” Phil Moore said.

Cameron Rice of Old Orchard Beach, who works at the stadium as a vendor, said he has noticed disappointment from some of his customers. He said the real Sea Dogs Biscuits are crunchier and bulkier, and he’s eager to get them back.

When they return, he said, “I’ll be first in line.”

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