By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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The costumed character was shown ditching junk food and working out at Peak Sports Club in a four-part video series dubbed Hammy’s Health Journey. In the end, it concluded that “Hammy has transformed his life for the better.”
But now that he’s not fat, fans aren’t happy.
The new slimmer look of Hamilton E. Hog debuted Saturday at the Rockford IceHogs home opener, and he didn’t get the kind of reception most do after successfully completing a weight-loss journey.
“You could hear the whole arena booing,” said Lukas Burkon, who was at the game with his girlfriend and their two kids.
The new look — in particular the slimmer head, open smile and almost startlingly wide open eyes — has turned many passionate hockey fans into Hammy haters. It spawned hashtags such as #notmyhammy, memes that compared it to Jack Nicholson breaking through a door in “The Shining,” and derogatory nicknames like Shammy Hammy. It even spawned a parody Twitter account called @skinnyhammy.
One fan wrote on the Rockford IceHogs Facebook page that the head “makes him look like a victim of botched plastic surgery.”
Now, fans’ quest to bring back the fat Hammy — or at least that version’s head — has a petition behind it.
Burkon started a change.org petition that calls for the team to bring the old Hammy back. It had more than 1,500 signatures by 6 p.m. Tuesday, just one day after the petition launched.
“I think a lot of people do understand the point they were trying to express. A more active Hammy, more active lifestyle than the old Hammy,” Burkon said. “I think the biggest part of the new Hammy is the head. The head just looks scary.”
The IceHogs aren’t commenting on the petition or the new look for now.
While some have expressed downright anger over the new look, others are simply poking fun at the pig.
“Look on the bright side. I’m just relieved he finally has the decency to wear some pants,” Carlos Angeles wrote on a Rockford IceHogs Facebook thread filled with Hammy hate.
Burkon, who is leading the petition charge, said his 8- and 10-year-old kids were looking forward to the transformation of Hammy but were ultimately disappointed.
“The vibe was immediately off when the new Hammy came out,” he said. “Really the whole vibe during the first game was not what it used to be.”
Burkon isn’t sure if his petition will convince the Hogs to hang up the new costume, but he’s holding out hope that enough signatures will do the trick.
“At minimum I hope that they would change the head, and put the old head back on the new Hammy,” Burkon said. “I personally would like the whole thing back, but I would be happy at this point if it was just the head they changed.”