<
>

Baseball's newest mascot is much s'more than a suit

Toasty's debut with the Vibes, a Brewers farm team based in Colorado Springs, was (camp)fire. Bobby Stevens/MiLB.com

A catchy nickname and an uncanny resemblance to chef Guy Fieri have made Toasty -- an anthropomorphized s'more and the new mascot of the Rocky Mountain Vibes, a Milwaukee Brewers farm team based in Colorado Springs -- the toast of baseball this season. We grilled Ryan Rhodes, owner of Custom Characters and Toasty's creator, about his recipe for success.

ESPN: How do you turn a campfire treat into a character?

Ryan Rhodes: Toasty was a tricky costume for us to build. When you're creating a marshmallow wrapped in graham crackers, details matter. I bought a box of actual graham crackers to make sure we had the right number of holes in each piece.

So where did you begin?

I start with a sketch, then create a full-sized mockup. I build costumes on a mannequin because I want to see if they're going to work at actual size. Like, what's an appropriately proportional marshmallow? People want more out of their mascots today. And food costumes are just a different animal, so to speak.

How does designing a culinary costume differ from creating a "living" creature?

A human or animal mascot already has arms and legs. But when you're working with food, it's more like a prop. Take Toasty. Marshmallows don't have appendages, so we had to use the marshmallow as the base of his body and figure out where the body parts would logically come out.

Food mascots must be a movable feast.

Mascots are entertainers -- they run around and engage with people and put on a show. Their costumes have to be flexible and allow the person inside to showcase the persona of the character.

How did you make sure Toasty doesn't scare children?

You have to be sure your mascot can see down to a kid's level. Hugging is a big thing these days, so costumes have to give them the freedom to hug. I made sure Toasty was able to wrap his arms around somebody.

It must get pretty hot -- and gross -- in there.

We put fans in all of our costumes to cool them, but there's only so much you can do. As far as keeping it clean, we just tell people to use antibacterial spray and let them dry. Some people spray their costumes with vodka. I suppose that could make for a fun night at the ballpark.

Is the San Diego Chicken the greatest food mascot of all time?

I never really thought about him being a food, but I guess so.