From Hot Dogs to Sushi, the Greatest Moments in Baseball-Park Food History
As Major League Baseball begins the season's second half, we here at Ad Age feel that it is a time for reflection not on the game but on the food and drinks served at the game.
A lot has changed over the years -- sushi, anyone? -- but a lot hasn't. Is there a better place to enjoy a cold beer and hot dog? Of course, you pay more for that pleasure each year, it seems. The average price of a small beer at MLB stadiums jumped from $5.81 last year to $6.16 this year, with the priciest at Marlins Park in Miami at $8, according to The Street .
Here's a look at some great, and not-so-great, moments in baseball-park food and drink history:
1906: The history of the American hot dog is shrouded in mystery and conflicting accounts. But one legend says hot dogs first appeared at baseball games in the early 1900s, when the guy who ran ice cream and soft drink concessions for the New York Giants, Harry Mosley Stevens (an Ohio native), put wieners on a bun because people did not want to eat ice cream in the cool April air. Well, that 's what the Ohio Historical Society says, noting it was either 1901 or 1906, so we'll go with that and pick 1906.
1908: Quick, what is the only brand name in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame?" It's Cracker Jack , of course. The snack, now owned by PepsiCo's Frito-Lay, remains a ballpark staple.
1953: St. Louis' Sportsman's Park is renamed Busch Stadium when Anheuser-Busch buys the Cardinals. Today, like most ballparks, the new Busch stadium sells all kinds of craft brews, including non A-B brands.
1962: The now-famous Dodger Dog is born. According to LA Weekly, it was invented by Dodger Stadium concessions manager Thomas Arthur, who originally called it a "foot-long dog." Problem was that it was only 10 inches, so he came up with the new name.
1974: The Cleveland Indians hold 10-cent beer night. The result: mass drunkenness and rioting.
1980: Ad Age surveys hot dog promotions across 26 MLB parks. Among our findings: Medford Meats gives a free hot dog to all women at a Phillies game on Flag Day. God bless America.
1984: Marge Schott buys the Cincinnati Reds. A polarizing figure known for her ever-present St. Bernard, "Schottzie," she was personally invested in keeping the price of stadium hot dogs at $1. She gave up ownership in 1999 and died in 2004. Today you can still find $1 hot dogs at Reds games -- but only in the upper deck.
1992: Oriole Park at Camden Yards opens in Baltimore, inspiring a wave of "retro" parks. Food-wise, the park is best known for Boog's Barbeque, which sparked nationwide trend of ballpark barbeque cuisine, according to the authors of "The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums." The authors a few years ago named Boog's to their list of top ten ballpark treats, which also includes shrimp tacos at Petco Park in San Diego and a grilled salmon sandwich at Safeco Field in Seattle.
1995: Coors Field opens in Denver along with the Sandlot Brewery inside the stadium, where Blue Moon beer is invented.
2000: Pacific Bell Park opens in San Francisco and the smell of garlic fries fills the air. Now called AT&T Park, today's concession choices include a California wine bar, clam chowder, crab sandwich and an antipasto bar.
2009: The new Yankee Stadium opens. The team boasts that the ballpark has five times the cooking capacity of the old stadium, with choices including a Boar's Head made-to-order sandwich stand, Cuban sandwiches, Asian noodle bowls and sushi.
2011: The White Sox unveil Bacardi Cafe at Cellular Field, competing with the crosstown Captain Morgan's Club that is next to Wrigley Field. Also available at Sox games: a two-pound Nacho Helmet for $11.50, served in a souvenir Sox helmet.
2012: Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium hosts the All-Star Game. A food vender estimates that fans would munch on 40,000 hot dogs, 7,200 soft pretzels, 2,400 pounds of brisket and 1,800 pounds of pulled pork. We are still waiting for an estimate on how much antacid was sold the next day.