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Hok Talk: Top 11 ballpark foods

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What’s life without some overpriced junk food?

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals
This article has nothing to do with Billy’s barbecue sauce but this picture cracks me up.
Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

If there is anything I like more than baseball it’s... probably video games. But eating is definitely up there, too. I often feel as if no special event is complete without special food. If I go to the movie theater I’m probably going to eat some popcorn, at the very least. Despite living near Atlanta I’ve only gone to a single game in the last five years; just to try the Burgerizza and Everything Dog. And you can bet that when I went to Royals games I was plotting out my menu for the night during the drive to the stadium.

Every stadium these days has some specialties and that’s great. But if you don’t know what they’ve got you’ll have to start with an initial plan based on the classics. This should help you know where to start your thinking.

Sunflower Seeds

These might be a staple of baseball players and fans everywhere but they aren’t even really a food. They’re just a delivery system for salt that you’re expected to spit out. Which is both disgusting and messy. Why would you “eat” these?

Bubblegum

Again, not a food. This is primarily here to show you just how far down the list sunflower seeds are.

Peanuts

There’s nothing wrong with peanuts. They’re just not very filling and also kind of bland unless you cover them with some kind of seasoning. These seasonings amount to flavored salt and mask the flavor of the peanut instead of enhancing it, usually. This begs the question, again, of why are you even bothering if you’re just going to obscure the flavor as much as possible. They basically end up serving as a higher quality sunflower seed in that they’re actually food and don’t cause quite the mess. But why would you eat peanuts if you had any other options?

Crackerjacks

Crackerjacks are too sweet. They were almost too sweet even when I was a kid. They’ve got a really terrific crunch to them that boosts them to this level, though. Unfortunately, they’ve stopped including prizes in the boxes. Now you can scan QR codes with your phone for a “digital experience”. Just...no.

Cheeseburgers

Cheeseburgers are almost as American as you can get. They’re hard to mess up too badly, so long as you’re making any effort at all. They’re a high-floor food, but they also have a low ceiling. If you absolutely don’t trust the kitchens at the stadium then you might go this route but otherwise, find something more interesting.

Frozen Lemonade

These sweet treats are easily a couple levels higher during a day game in the hot part of the summer. But as long as it’s not the near-freezing temperatures of a more northerly stadium early in April or late in September they’re always good to eat. Bonus points because vendors will bring them to you instead of requiring you to go find a stand or stall. Also a favorite among kids and a good way to keep them distracted for a bit without creating any more of a mess than normal.

Nachos

There’s just something about processed cheese sauce. I don’t know what it is but I can’t get enough of the stuff. Corn chips are the natural delivery system for this delicacy. Add some jalapenos for a great spicy tang and you’re really going places. Don’t pay too much for them, though, since they’re honestly pretty basic.

Soft pretzels

A good soft pretzel is a thing to behold. Crispy on the outside. Soft and chewy on the inside. A good salt ratio benefits it greatly, as well. Bonus points if you can get a container processed cheese sauce to dip them in. Seriously. Who doesn’t love a good soft pretzel?

Hot dogs

This is a baseball staple and for good reason. Unless it’s one of those burnt, moldy buns they were selling on buck night at Kauffman for a bit. They’re usually fairly cheap, especially on the aforementioned buck night, and they provide some decent protein. Whether they’re a sandwich or not they can be almost as easily customized as cheeseburgers but can more easily be eaten with a single hand. That means your other hand can be in your glove; ready to snag that incoming foul ball. And seriously, what feels more baseballish than eating a hot dog while cheering for your favorite team on a pleasant summer night?

Helmet Sundae

Ice cream is always great. Sundaes are definitely one of the best ways to have ice cream. And when you put it in a miniature helmet to represent your favorite team it just gets even better. Now you’ve got a delicious treat and a lovely memento of your time at the ballpark. Two missions accomplished for the price of one!

Chili Cheese Fries

Here we are back with that processed cheese sauce. But now we’ve put it on fried potatoes, which are always amazing. And then we added some chili. If there is a flavor that better matches up with processed cheese sauce than chili I certainly don’t know what it is. Put it all together and you’ve got a great treat that’s also very filling. This helps prevent the temptation to go back to the vendor stand and soaks up some of that beer you drank. The one downside is potential heartburn but the taste is well worth it. I definitely don’t recommend this on one of those hot, summer day games. But once the sun goes down you can’t go wrong with a nice basket of chili cheese fries.

So what about you? Do you eat at the ballpark? What are your go-to snacks? Any specialties you tried that you found less disappointing than the burgerizza?