Akron RubberDucks to play as JoJos, Homers

The Akron RubberDucks unveiled two promotional identities that they’ll don in 2022: the Akron JoJos and the Akron Homers.

The RubberDucks join the food-based nickname frenzy with an homage to fried, breaded potato wedges called jojos. The nickname is a regionalism that the team attributes to Lebanese immigrants Alfred Ajamie and Walter Abood, who in 1963 established a still-standing restaurant called Fiesta Pizza and Chicken in Goodyear Heights, a neighborhood in Akron.

The restaurant sold chicken and pizza, and per the team, “They also introduced a brand-new food item to Akron, the JoJo.”

As with any such claim, controversy abounds! The origins of the JoJo are in question, but the term is also common in the Pacific Northwest, particularly Portland, Oregon. Competing accounts don’t exactly clarify the first use of the term. One early claim to jojos comes from Flavor-Crisp, a pressure fryer manufacturer from Omaha that trademarked a deep fat fryer in 1960 and made jojos at a National Restaurant Expo in Chicago prior to 1963, “broasting” potatoes to demonstrate the efficacy of their product. A Seattle Times article titled “How the jojo became a Pacific Northwest staple” quotes Flavor-Crisp president Ron Lazure as saying: “When customers asked [Ron Echtenkamp, a Flavor-Crisp executive] and his fellow salesmen what they were called, they made up the name on the spot, saying they were jojos.”

A second claim to the term comes from the Nicewonger Co., a restaurant supply company in Vancouver, Washington, which sold “broaster” style fryers throughout Oregon and Washington. In the Seattle Times article on the subject, Paul Nicewonger recounts his father’s telling of the story: “They somehow got thrown on a tray, and some salesman said it was a jojo.”

While the origins of jojos may be lost to history, the RubberDucks will make a strong claim to Akron’s claim on the term when they take the field as the Akron JoJos July 28 and 29. (Will we see a rebuttal from the Portland Pickles or Hillsboro Hops? Stay tuned!)

The second temporary rebrand that the RubberDucks announced will take place earlier in the season. On May 28, the team will take on the moniker of its mascot, Homer, a purple polka-dotted pigeon.

Homer has served as the team’s mascot since the franchise moved to the city and became the Akron Aeros in 1997, staying with the club after it rebranded as the RubberDucks in 2014 and joining Akron’s other mascots, Orbit, Webster, and Rubberta.