NEW YORK — While baseball teams are duking it out on the diamond, a whole other contest is taking place on the concourse.
“Competition at the concession stands has become as intense as the competition on the field with teams trying to bring the best one-of-a-kind offerings to their fans,” a spokesperson with Major League Baseball (MLB) said.
That’s why MLB created the MLB FoodFest, a new event celebrating ballpark food from across the country. Each of the 30 MLB clubs designated one concession item to represent them at the festival, which will take place April 21-22 in New York City.
“We’re in a kind of food renaissance here in the U.S. right now ... All of our teams are well aware of that and have started creating new and interesting food items at MLB ballparks.”
— MLB spokesperson
“We’re in a kind of food renaissance here in the U.S. right now, if not in a lot of the world,” the MLB spokesperson told Food Business News. “It’s such a huge point of interest. All of our teams are well aware of that and have started creating new and interesting food items at MLB ballparks, so we really wanted to spotlight that.”
Featured fare ranges from stadium-exclusive fan favorites, such as the Houston Astros’ Chicken Waffle Cone, to unique menu items debuting this season, such as the Oakland Athletics’ Monte Khrush David Cristo sandwich. Other new offerings to be showcased at MLB FoodFest include the Cleveland Indians’ Flamethrower pulled pork sandwich, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Gioia’s Hot Salami Sandwich, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Cheddar Beer Bratwurst, the Chicago White Sox’s South Side Horseshoe sausage sandwich and the New York Yankees’ Adobo Bao Bun.
“The top trends in these items is that they are incredibly imaginative, but also show each team’s pride in its local region,” the MLB spokesperson said.
Since Kansas City is known for its barbecue, The Kansas City Royals chose to tout their town trademark with a twist. The Royals’ Brisket-Acho features sliced brisket, cheesy corn, baked beans, coleslaw and barbecue sauce on a bed of nacho chips.
Other teams are also showcasing their regional roots but keeping it classic. The Chicago Cubs are offering the Chicago Dog, featuring a beef frank served in a poppy seed bun with sport peppers, tomatoes, onion, relish, mustard and a dill pickle spear. The New York Mets are serving the Classic NY Deli Pastrami Sandwich – a pastrami sandwich with mustard on rye bread. The Boston Red Sox submitted the New England Lobster Roll, featuring lobster meat with lettuce, butter, dry parsley and lemon pepper.
Some of the more adventurous menu items include such ingredients as Flaming Hot Cheetos, plantains and even grasshoppers.
“Ballpark menus have come a long way from just hot dogs, pretzels and soft-serve ice cream,” the MLB spokesperson said. “It’s certainly not just peanuts and Cracker Jack anymore.”
Flaming Hot Cheetos turn up the heat in two of the FoodFest dishes. The Cleveland Indians’ Flamethrower pulled pork burger is topped with bacon jam, coleslaw and Flaming Hot Cheetos, while the Cheeto-Lote, from the Los Angeles Dodgers, consists of corn on the cob covered with chipotle mayo, Parmesan, tajin and Flaming Hot Cheetos.
Plantains pop up in the Miami Marlins stadium. Their Bacon Wrapped Plantain features a plantain wrapped and topped with bacon, guava marmalade, queso blanco and cilantro served on a stick.
Perhaps the boldest FoodFest offering comes from the Seattle Mariners. They offer Toasted Grasshoppers, featuring whole grasshoppers roasted in a chili lime salt.
“Our goals are to showcase our clubs’ food items and get fans excited about the new season and also to invite people that might not be baseball fans (yet) to see another side of our sport,” the MLB spokesperson said.