It's been trending this way for awhile now; long gone are the days when Dollar Hot Dogs and Buckets of Soda were the highlight of the ballpark culinary experience. Now, in most Major League ballparks, there are at least three or four creative ways to make "game night" and "cheat night" synonymous.
The fine folks at Globe Life Park? Well, they have taken it a few steps further. They rolled out the full menu today for the media, ostensibly to trim the herd a little bit before Opening Day.
THE MVP BLOODY MARY
You know how most Bloody Marys (Maries?) have green garnishes, like...celery? This Bloody Mary does not trifle with any such nonsense. It has some whole bell peppers, but the rest of the garnishes? Well...The story behind this drink (probably) goes like this: Paul Bunyan, awakening one morning with a very large hangover, was aghast to find that sometime during the previous night, he had toppled over, wiping out an entire moderate-sized herd of oxen. Not one to waste livestock, he put on his favorite record ("Gangstabilly" by Drive By Truckers) at a reasonable volume, and attempted to honor their lives by making himself the world's largest Bloody Mary.
A wheel of cheese here, some indeterminate rolled-up balls of matter there (in the back)... By the time he was finished, he had used the whole herd of oxen. Still, though, it lacked something. It was not quite perfect. What did it need?
Just then, a large boar ambled by. "Yes, yes, that's it," he whispered.
Speaking of Bacon...
THE WICKED 'P'IG
The P stands for Pig, but just in case anyone got confused, they went ahead and also added the "-ig" in the title. There are approximately [infinite] pork products on display here.
I ate a miniature one of these today at the press conference, and it was bigger than any hamburger I had eaten in the last month. The ingredients, as best I could ascertain, are as follows: Bacon, Pork, Ham, Pig, Side of Pig, Pigbread, Porkslaw, Oinkion Rings (get it?), shame, and death. It's delicious.
Of course, any ballpark food experimentation should start with Hot Dogs. As a long-time member of the unforgivable Team Ketchup and Dill Pickles, I know a little about living dangerously inside the bun. But I was not prepared for the acts of defiance against God and Science that awaited me inside the Cholula All-You-Can-Eat Porch this morning. First off: the Sweet Spot Cotton Candy Dog.
At first blush, this looks like an accident. You're at the ballpark with your two-year old, you're watching a beautiful 6-4-3 double play, and you look down to discover that your dear sweet daughter has decorated your dog with some wreckage. "What is this abomination?" you ask under your breath. But you paid six bucks for a hot dog, so you close your eyes and take a bite...
Twitter confirmed it; this seems like just the worst idea. So before I tried it, I asked a couple of the chefs if I was about to make a profoundly regrettable decision. "I had nothing to do with the development of this," one of them said in a tone that can only be described as self-preservation "but... it's actually good." The second was equally as fraught with hesitation: "So, that's not relish, it's cotton-candy-infused mustard, and yeah, it sounds pretty uh... *whew*"...but you should try it; it's actually pretty good."
Anytime "actually" shows up in not one, but two haltingly, borderline optimistic (maybe?) endorsements, I don't know about you, but I guess I gotta eat that thing.
Honest evaluation: I wanted so badly to hate this, but I tried it, and... they're right. It's not something I'm going to start doing on purpose at home, but as far as adventure food goes, I've had much, much worse. Remind me never to tell you how they make the white sausage in Poland. Anyway - 6.5/10, Actually Pretty Good.
The other Hot Dog Offering? Flamin' Hot Cheetos Dog.
First, they infused (that's a word you'll hear a lot in Adventure Foods: "Infused". It means "Mashed Together Until They Become One") Mustard with Flamin' Hot Cheetos until it became a neon orange fire-paste. Then, because that was not enough Flamin' Hot Cheetos for one 'Dog, they topped it with pure unadultrated, straight-from-the-bag Flamin' Hot Cheetos, tossed carelessly like pretend dollar bills from a Johnny Manziel touchdown celebration atop the Flamin' Hot Cheetos Infused Mustard to complete the Flamin' Hot Cheetos Dog (featuring Flamin' Hot Cheetos)TM.
While it might seem like the new menu was just one big dare, there were also some healthy options. It's one thing to be cavalier with what you put into your body at a baseball game; that's practically a Constitutionally Protected American right. It's another thing altogether to wrestle this thing into your digestive system...
...while someone you love is making this healthy choice.
And if you've only read this article for rage-fuel about the dying of American Good Sense, well I'm sorry to ruin your good bad time, but there's even a whole selection of vegan products.
Most of you, however, will be somewhere in a middle ground. You (wisely) think it a poor idea to eat an entire farm's worth of Pig in a place where your reaction time should not be impaired (baseballs are zinging around at 100 mph plus, my guy), but you still have a desire for only #Meat. For you, my friend, I say this: check out this table full of seafood.
They're calling it the "Raw Bar", which sounds like something you might see served at Wrestlemania this weekend, but it is not, in fact, an Axe Body Spray-infused plate of sliced Ursula From The Little Mermaid. In fact, it consists of some quite tasty and perfectly reasonable seafood options, including crab legs! At a baseball game! What a time to be alive.
Look, I know I started this thing with the most shocking items. You have to panhandle for clicks in this, the Year of Our Lord, Twenty and Sixteen. But there really are some menu choices here that are well thought-out and taste legitimately good, and as a treat for you making it to the end of the article, I saved the best one for last:
CHICKEN & DONUT SKEWER
The chefs have taken an existing trend ("Chicken and Waffles") and altered it slightly: Chicken and Donuts. On a dang stick.
I had already eaten a mini-pig sandwich, a cotton candy hot dog (no, really, it was fine!), and some classy seafood, but the chicken and donuts called out to me from the buffet line. "HOW COULD YOU EAT A COTTON CANDY DOG, BUT IGNORE US?!" they whined. They had a valid argument. I would cheat death. I must place them inside my mouth and accept the consequences.
Well, I'm alive and writing this. And I can tell you with certainty: nothing I tasted today was bad, even if I expected it to be. But if you get one Adventure Food item this year at the ballpark, I implore you: Get the Chicken and Donut skewer. Even when my stomach was full of Dares, it was still great.
There are worse ways to die.
Levi Weaver is not a food critic, but he does write about baseball, and this was at least tangentially related. Follow him at @threetwoeephus for baseball-related puns, or follow us at @BaseballTX for Rangers updates.