The evolution of Esperanto’s Doughboy to Oboy has taken another turn for the delicious, as the popular chicken-and-cream-cheese-filled snack will now be sold at Albany’s Times Union Center during games and concerts. It’s part of Esperanto’s greater effort to take the former Doughboy, officially rebranded as the “Oboy” back in August, and go regional and, who knows, someday national, with their bestselling food invention.
“Much thanks to Aramark, SMG and the Times Union Center for deciding to feature our signature item starting this week in two of their concession stands,” says Esperanto’s Co-owner, Will Pouch, who opened the restaurant in 1995 with his wife, Belinda, and one of his former teachers and close friends, Skidmore College professor Sheldon Soloman. “Our plan is for the Oboy to have a presence at the Times Union Center for at least a full year, and hopefully forever—though Winnie the Pooh is quoted as saying: ‘Forever is a very long time,'” says Pouch, with a laugh.
All kidding aside, selling Oboys and other snacks at concerts and games is nothing new for Esperanto. The company spent ten years at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) working side-by-side with Aramark, which provides general food, custodial and other services, until Legends Hospitality took over SPAC’s food and beverage operation four years ago. But Esperanto has long had dreams of taking the delectable handheld treat beyond its home here in the Capital Region. In fact, one of the continual challenges for the single-kitchen restaurant has just been meeting the demand for Oboys. In the late 1990s, Esperanto had to walk away from what would have been a major deal with the Bronx Zoo, which wanted thousands of (then) Doughboys for their concession stands.
But that’s about to change. The Saratoga-based restaurant is opening a separate but affiliated bakery in Mechanicville to finally mass-produce Oboys on a commercial scale and ship them across New York State and, hopefully soon, the rest of the Northeast. “When we get our magic Oboy bakery up and running, we hope to connect with other members of the old Aramark-Esperanto-SPAC-Live Nation team in other venues around the region,” says Pouch.
Regardless of where Oboys end up in the near future, you’re going to be seeing, and no doubt eating, a whole lot more of them.