Digging in to home plate: Wacky foods a new trend at baseball stadiums

From three-pound banana split sundaes to funnel cake hot dogs, both major and minor league baseball stadiums continue to add on to their wacky list of food offerings in an attempt to increase their audience numbers. Most recently, Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, has presented a wide range of new concession-stand options to include bacon-on-a-stick, featuring thick-cut Danish bacon with black pepper seasoning.

Though the bacon item does appear appetizing to her, DePaul freshman and avid baseball fan Alexis Rocha sees no real benefit in the new addition.

“I don’t think it’ll attract more people at all,” she said. “Food is already so expensive, imagine the prices for these meals.” She notes that it might bring only curious attraction at first, but it will very quickly die down. “People are there to watch baseball, not eat the food.”

Former U.S. Cellular Experience employee Christine Lohnstein seconds this notion. “Most people attend baseball games for the love of sports,” she said. “The unorthodox food choices are bringing in the wrong crowds … Like people who just go places to try foods.”

Lohnstein’s experience at ‘The Cell’ has made her realize that hot dogs are indeed a true staple when attending any baseball game.

“When I’m attending a game, I really only look forward to the hot dogs because the two go hand in hand,” she said. “I don’t think diverse foods would change my desire to attend games. The experience is enough for me.” She goes on to note that when she was tired of the hot dog, she would go next door outside her shop to find a “make your own nachos” station and paired it with some churros.

Such ordinary, yet classic servings seem to make consumers perfectly content as it is.

“Most people are content with a hot dog, why go so fancy?” asks Rocha.

Believing that the intention of the stadium is not where it necessarily should be, Lohnstein views them as “trying to gain consumers by their taste buds.” She went on to say, “People who attend baseball games are supposed to be supporting the players, not the food.”

Among other unconventional food choices in the baseball world, a Fifth Third Burger is offered by the White Michigan Whitecaps, a minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Described as a five-pound, 5,000-calorie burger, it includes five slices of American cheese, a half cup of chili, crushed corn chips, tomatoes, lettuce, nacho cheese, five thirdpound burger patties, salsa and sour cream, all held together with two eight-inch buns. Not to be forgotten, an optional addition of jalapeêÑÔ±os may be made.

Ray Hunnicutt, a former minor league player in the Baltimore Orioles organization, has a different outlook on the matter.

“I don’t think players care if people are watching or not,” Hunnicutt said. “The more people who come to the games, whether for the food or the actual game, the more the players get paid.”

Hunnicutt recognizes that food does help attract people, since “not everyone likes food, but not everyone likes baseball … It doesn’t necessarily take away from the game (because) it gives people some type of entertainment when there’s down time.” Agreeing with the stadiums’ intentions to increase attendance, it helps “when you have new and special foods, (because) people want to try it.”

So go ahead and try that three-pound banana split sundae. Those Sox players won’t mind one bit. Who says you can’t enjoy the game and the food? Who knows, maybe the $17.00 will be worth it … And yes, you can thank us later.

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