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