Winter in the Minnesota brings a long stretch of freezing temperatures. And in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, there’s one thing to do when all those lakes freeze over: get out your hockey gear. Pond hockey is a Minnesota passion, and when the Pond Hockey Championships were held this past January, it made sense for another state institution to help sponsor the event: Ambassador Meats.

Ambassador Meats has been part of Minnesota diets for 90 years — “and we have thrived in those 90 years,” says Clint Yonkers, associate brand manager. “We are a local Minnesota brand. We know our market. We work to do what’s best for our market and our core customers in Minnesota.”

Pond hockey is very much a Minnesota staple, and it has some differences from professional hockey, Yonkers explains.

“It is a four-on-four format with no goalies. They have small wooden goals that they use, and they have lower boards. It’s more about skill and finesse, and specifically in Minnesota, it’s played on the ponds, like it sounds. You have to deal with ice cracking, so it’s not the perfectly manicured ice that you’re expecting in an indoor rink,” he says.

Throughout the championships, Ambassador Old Fashioned Wieners and Smoked Bratwursts were sold at the concessions during the event. The company also drew onlookers with its hot dog cannon, “Der Viener Schlinger.” A 4-foot-long cannon shaped like a hot dog, Der Viener Schlinger is capable of launching multiple hot dogs in the way some sports teams use t-shirt cannons.

The hot dogs and brats are among the most popular products in the Ambassador Meats portfolio, which also includes summer sausage and “little smokies” cocktail sausages. “The Ambassador brand has Scandanavian roots, and that means it’s a smokier, sweeter hot dog and flavor profile,” Yonkers explains.

The sponsorship with the Pond Hockey Championships was a first for the processor. “We have partnered this previous year with the University of Minnesota Football on some cross-promotional things, but this is the first year Ambassador Meats has dipped their toe into these types of sporting activities,” Yonkers said, adding that the company will continue to look for partnerships that are uniquely Minnesota in nature.