Baseball season is back. That means I’m going to eat some hot dogs soon. And I’m excited.
I shouldn’t be, not considering the cost. Those between-inning lines are a bitch, standing in front of angry fans looking for beer number three, and behind slow dads buying meals for big families. The condiment dispensers never work properly, everyone forgets to grab napkins, and then of course there’s the geographical price hike, five bucks for a frank that probably isn’t worth one dollar outside the stadium.
But I am excited, for mustard-drowned Coliseum Dogs in Oakland, and even for Dodger Dogs, bleacher snacks more iconic than tasty, because hot dogs aren’t a year-round sport in California, because tradition can trump quality, and because ballparks fit the food like a glove.
Ballparks are home to local fast food, too, beyond hot dogs, dressed in team colors, displayed prominently on fences and scoreboards, and featured along corridors like exhibits in a museum. These halls of fame boast municipal pride, like Shake Shack in the outfield of Citi Field, fried raviolis in St. Louis, crab cakes at Camden Yards, Langer’s pastrami at Dodger Stadium and “Gilroy” garlic fries at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
The idea of American fast food is championed at baseball games. Crackerjacks and cotton candy are a piece of the pastime, and so are ballpark franks, even if they’re crappy hot dogs in a state full of crappy hot dogs, at five bucks a pop and wrapped in tacky colored foil. It doesn’t matter; the circumstances can make even San Francisco’s gluten-free franks seem delicious.
Happy ballpark fast food season, y’all!