History of The Crunch Howler: Timberwolves Classic Edition giveaway explained

Since the franchise’s inception in 1989, Minnesota Timberwolves fans have always embraced the howl. 

It’s the underlying soundtrack of home games, a symbol of togetherness that rises in intensity at both pivotal and celebratory moments. 

It’s the reason the team’s marketing department dug deep into the archives to bring back The Crunch Howler, a beloved fan giveaway from the 1991-92 season, to help celebrate the team’s 35th anniversary.

“When we were working on the launch of Classic Edition Uniforms, we knew we had to also feature a retro giveaway that would properly celebrate 35 seasons of Timberwolves basketball,” says Timberwolves and Lynx Chief Marketing Officer Mike Grahl. “The Crunch Howler was immediately No. 1 on our board and with the return of Old Shep, it just made the most sense to bring back.” 

The plan to bring back The Crunch Howler started with a conversation with Jeff Münneke, the team’s Vice President of Fan Experience and a Day 1 Timberwolves employee. Since he has been with the team for 35 years, Münneke provided historical context about fan giveaways from the early years of the franchise and shared how popular The Crunch Howler was then and even now. 

“Everyone remembers using it,” says Münneke. “People love nostalgia, people love those trips down memory lane.” 

The original Crunch Howler 

The original Crunch Howler was first given to fans on Jan. 2, 1992 for Nestlé Crunch Megaphone Night, which ended up being a 92-91 Wolves loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. It was later sold at the team store and was filled with eight ounces of fun size Nestlé Crunch Bars. 

The Crunch Howler however, was an evolution of an earlier giveaway. 

During the team’s inaugural 1989-90 season, the Timberwolves gave out an in-game giveaway called the Act II Mini Megaphone. The giveaway had a rolled-up bag of Act II microwave popcorn inside of it and when flipped, could be used as a megaphone. 

Due to the popularity of the mini megaphone, the team knew they had to make it bigger and better the following season.  

Enter The Crunch Howler.  

“It seemed logical to tie the giveaway to our mascot Crunch,” says Münneke. "Because Crunch would lean back, cup his hands around his mouth and howl. Everyone in the audience would copy him and howl like a wolf.” 

To promote the giveaway, the team created ads of players yelling into and posing with The Crunch Howler. That hyped up the giveaway according to Münneke and helped draw in a crowd of 19,006 to Target Center.  

“The cool thing about The Crunch Howler was that it worked really well’ says Münneke. ‘The arena was incredibly loud.” 

The All-New Crunch Howler 

Designed to look identical to the original version, the all-new Crunch Howler will be given out to the first 15,000 fans on Wednesday, Nov. 8 when the Wolves play host to the New Orleans Pelicans. The game will be the first time the Timberwolves wear their Classic Edition Uniforms and play on their matching Classic Edition court this season. 

It’s a game Münneke has been looking forward to ever since he found out The Crunch Howler was making a comeback.  

“Anyway, we can connect with the fans through eras of the team is really fun,” says Münneke. “We still have several hundred tickets members from Day 1 and fans that have been around a long time that remember The Crunch Howler.

"It's going to be awesome.” 

The first 15,000 fans to Wolves vs. Pelicans on Wednesday get a Crunch Howler. Doors to the game will open at 6 PM. Get tickets here.