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Baseball fans feast on ballpark fare

Cracker Jacks and hot dogs part of the game's tradition

POSTED: June 11, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Some food pairings naturally go together, such as peanut butter and jelly or ice cream and birthday cake.

In the world of baseball, however, peanuts and Cracker Jack or hot dogs and beer seem to be the ideal combinations.

Ballpark food is a cuisine of its own, since few other places offer footlong chili cheese dogs next to M&M’s and Pixy Stix.

For baseball players, the grub of choice tends to be Gatorade, bubble gum and sunflower seeds. For spectators, hearty and substantial cuisines such as classic corn dogs, Philly cheesesteaks and everything in between can satisfy their hungry stomachs.

Some fans stick to classics, like Amanda Byers, whose favorite ballpark delicacies are simple peanuts.

“I always think of the guys walking around with the trays full of them, and they toss them to you when you buy them,” the Gainesville woman said. “And they always taste really good.”

Atlanta Braves fan Amanda Gjesvold of Gainesville agreed.

“And you just toss the shells on the ground,” when you are done with them, she said.

Peanuts are such a baseball staple they even have their own line in ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ usually played during the seventh-inning stretch at any major- or minor-league ballpark in the nation.

Cracker Jacks, which share the same verse with peanuts in the famous song, also are a staple in ballparks.

According to History.com, the caramel-covered popcorn and peanuts combination was introduced to consumers at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. The salty and sweet snack was first sold at a Major League ballpark in 1907, according to the website. The following year Jack Norworth immortalized it when he penned the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Frito-Lay, which owns the snack brand, also has incorporated the snack into a bacon-chocolate dessert recipe on its website, www.fritolay.com. The incorporation is a sweet snack for any time of the year, but especially for the summer.

Other salty snacks are popular at ballgames as they pair well with cold drinks like Coca-Cola and beer. They also are easy for concession stands to keep in stock.

Ashley Adams works for Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and brought the park’s signature colored kettle corn through the stands for fans to taste, but the treat isn’t her No. 1 choice during a game.

“I love a yummy pretzel, because it’s salty,” she said. “But it’s great to enjoy on a hot day with a cool drink.”

For those who crave more than a snack in the stadium, professional teams offer a variety of eats including barbecue, banana pudding, loaded nachos and baked beans for a full meal.

When Bill and Ruth Grimes head to a Gwinnett Braves game, they first make a stop at one of many concession stands for their baseball staples.

“I always get an Italian sausage, he gets hot dogs and beer!” Ruth said.

Later in the game, when the cotton candy and peanut vendors come through the crowd, the beer cooler follows them to satisfying the taste buds of thirsty fans. But other fans prefer ice cream, slushees or other frozen treats.

“There is just something about sitting down at the ballpark in the summer with a hot dog and a frozen lemonade,” Braves fan Brittany Button of Dacula said. “A baseball game isn’t complete without either.”


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