Hot Dogs, Peanuts and...Sushi?
by Tina Caputo
An occasional sports fan, I've always looked forward to my annual trip to the ballpark with mixed feelings — excitement and indigestion.
For me, the invigorating fresh air and thrill of the game was inseparable from the junk food fest of hot dogs, greasy french fries and beer. After all, what other food choices did I have?
Plenty, as it turns out. While I was busy stuffing down corn dogs, healthful eats have been popping up at Major League concession stands across the country.
My culinary wake-up call came last season, when I attended a Giants game at San Francisco's Pac Bell Park. Sure, the greasy fare was there, but so were less decadent vittles like grilled chicken sandwiches and sushi. With grateful arteries and happy taste buds, I kissed my yearly snout dog goodbye.
Apparently, I wasn't the only baseball fan calling out for something beyond peanuts and Cracker Jack.
"Fans are more knowledgeable today about their own health than they were a decade ago," says Debbie Albert of ARAMARK, a food and beverage service provider for 13 Major League ballparks. "Healthy choice options have to be a part of the mix." So now wieners and butter-laden popcorn share real estate with salads, frozen yogurt and fresh fruit.
Volume Services America, a food service company that supplies seven Major League ballparks, also has added healthy options to concession stand menus in recent years. But hot dogs are still king.
"We find that fans still love the traditional ballpark experience," says company spokesperson Elaine Richner. "[This] includes hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts and their favorite team on the field."
Even so, Albert says that giving fans what they like to eat — sometimes before they even know they want it — is all part of providing the "total fan experience."
So never mind the guys wolfing down chilidogs who snicker as you walk by with your sushi. Your arteries will have the last laugh.
Here's what's good to eat from Arlington to Veterans Stadium...