It’s opening week and as major-league baseball teams kick off their season, fans are flocking back to ballparks across the nation. No game is complete without a trip to the concession stand, and if there’s one ballpark treat baseball fans continue to relish, it’s hot dogs.
The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council estimates that baseball fans will consume 20,421,361 hot dogs over the course of the 2013 season. That’s enough hot dogs to round the bases 28,113 times. It’s also enough to feed all 56,000 fans at Dodger Stadium, major-league baseball’s largest stadium, for 361 straight home games.
“Fans have always enjoyed coming to the game and having a hot dog,” says National Hot Dog and Sausage Council President and “Queen of Wien” Janet Riley. “Hot dogs and baseball go together perfectly. For a few hours, people have the chance to relax and be a kid again.”
In terms of hot dog consumption, the Los Angeles Dodgers knock the competition out of the park. The Dodgers will sell an estimated 2,475,000 hot dogs and reclaim the top spot after an upset last year from the Texas Rangers. Behind the Dodgers are the Boston Red Sox with 1.5 million hot dogs, the Rangers with 1,332,668, the Detroit Tigers with 1,300,000 and the Yankees with 1,000,000. Overall, seven teams are expected to sell more than 1 million hot dogs.
When it comes to sausage, the Milwaukee Brewers, home of the Klement’s sausage race at every home game, are still the only team projected to sell more sausages than hot dogs. However, The Red Sox have claimed the title of sausage kings from the Brewers with an estimated 421,200 sausages. The Red Sox are followed by the Mets with 405,000, and the Giants, Nationals, Tigers and Brewers tied with 400,000. Overall, fans are expected to consume more than 6,133, 722 sausages this season.
While baseball fans love classic favorites, such as the Chicago or New York-style hot dog, other stadiums are continuing to add their own varieties that feature local flavor favorites.
According to Wrigley Field Executive Chef David Burns, it’s these hometown varieties that add to the value of hot dogs.
“The perfect hot dog is a classic baseball tradition,” says Burns. “From a simple squirt of mustard, to chili, cheeses, salsa, and so much more, the hot dog is ultimately customizable, which is why it appeals to a wide range of fans.”
Vendors are taking note and beginning to offer distinct varieties that reflect the local market and flavors. This year’s regional highlights include:
• Crab Mac N Cheese Dog: Maryland’s known for its crabs, so it’s no surprise the Baltimore Orioles combine comfort food with a little Chesapeake flair to represent the Baltimore/Maryland Region. The O’s top the hot dog with mac and cheese and a generous lump of crab meat. For true Chesapeake authenticity, the crab meat is seasoned with Old Bay.
• Great Canadian Dog: The Toronto Blue Jays’ foot-long hot dog is fit for a lumberjack and topped with maple baked beans, crumbled Canadian back bacon, and Canadian cheddar will have patrons saying “Oh Canada!”
• Dixie Dog: The Atlanta Braves’ half-pound, foot-long, all-beef, national deli hot dog features flash-fried, pulled barbeque pork, low-country mustard barbeque sauce, creamy southern slaw offering fans a taste of southern charm.
• Totally Rossome Dog: After the rousing success of the Boomstick, a 2-lb. monster dog topped with cheese, chili and onions, the Rangers have taken it up a notch with the Totally Rossome dog. Named after Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross, this hot dog is topped with chili, cheese, jalapeno peppers, brisket, and Doritos. The Rangers are also offering the Sausage Slugger, a 2-lb. Italian Sausage.
Not only does enjoying one of the many variety hot dogs at the game allow fans to be a kid again, it also gives parents the opportunity to share the tradition with their own kids. In order to make the trip to the ballpark more affordable for families, many stadiums are offering deals and discounting prices. The Red Sox are offering free kids’ meals and buy one, get one free Fenway Franks for the entire month of April. Additionally, the Twins, Pirates, Nationals, Rangers, and Indians all offer Dollar Dog Days at select games throughout the season.
To get in the spirit for July’s National Hot Dog Month, many stadiums feature special events centered on hot dogs. The Marlins host their annual hot dog eating contest around the fourth of July, and last year, the Cubs even hosted a “Social Media Night” allowing patrons to cast their vote for their favorite dog.
More on the annual baseball survey and other Hot Dog & Sausage facts, recipes, history and fun, can be found online at www.hot-dog.org.
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