Slideshow: Ballpark cuisine

by Rebekah Schouten
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KANSAS CITY — Baseball season is all about fired-up fans, bustling ballparks and lately, crazy concessions. Each year, stadiums try to outdo each other with their shocking food offerings, and this season’s ballpark cuisine lineup is brimming with culinary curveballs.

“The food is part of the ball game experience,” said Mickey Graham, director of marketing for the West Michigan Whitecaps. “I think fans are looking for unique items, something different.”

Those fans will not be disappointed.

Frawley stadium, home of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, is serving the Krispy Kreme Donut Dog. It features a hot dog nestled in a Krispy Kreme donut bun topped with bacon and raspberry jelly.

The combination of meat and sweets continues at Fox Cities stadium, where the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers play. They are offering the Big Mother Funnel Burger, a huge bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between two funnel cakes and topped with powdered sugar.

The Whitecaps’ home stadium, Fifth Third Ballpark, let the fans decide what new concession they wanted to experience by holding the sixth annual Fan Food Vote contest. Fans submitted their recipes on-line, and the public voted on the top 10. The top contenders included concoctions like the Kat Dog — a Kit Kat bar inside a hot dog, and the Picnic on a Stick — fried chicken, tater tots and pickles deep fried in cornbread batter on a stick. But the victor was the Hot-to-Tot, a buffalo chicken and bleu cheese covered tater tot dish.

Mr. Graham said this year’s winner proves that, while fans want to try new and exciting dishes, they still want that food to taste good.

“Some stadiums sell outrageous food that people try once, but does anyone come back to eat it again?” Mr. Graham said.

This may be the reason for some of the tamer new food options in ballparks this year, which offer flavors most would view as adventurous but not over the top.

For example, the Philadelphia Phillies’ home stadium, Citizens Bank Park, will debut the South Philly Dog, a Phillies Frank topped with roasted red peppers, sharp provolone and broccoli rabe.

Or for fans with a sweet tooth, the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, where the Oklahoma City Dodgers play, is introducing Oreo churros, a unique twist on the classic dessert. The churros are made of Oreo cookies and served with Oreo cream dipping sauce.

Some parks are even catering to the more health-conscious. New York’s Citi Field will have a natural, organic and gluten-free booth, while Citizens Bank Park will offer a completely gluten-free dedicated stand.

Mr. Graham said Fifth Third Ballpark once set up a healthy options stand, but it had few patrons.

“We had to put a Dippin’ Dots in the stand just to get anybody to go to it,” Mr. Graham said with a laugh. “With health food and diets, people come to a game to get a break from all that. It’s all part of the experience.”

Click for a slideshow of more 2015 ballpark foods.
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