Nothing says spring like going out to a good old-fashioned baseball game—we love the game, the comradery and especially the food. Sure, some ballparks today sell sushi, tacos and more upscale faire, but the classics, like hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks, remain the most popular.
According to History.com, “Americans consume more than 20 billion hot dogs and 600 million pounds of peanuts a year. And Cracker Jack—now sold in bags instead of boxes—is still available at all 30 Major League parks.” How did these treats become classics? Find out here:
Many people argue over who really originated the hot dog. To prevent his customers’ hands from burning, Antonoine Feuchtwanger, a St. Louis peddler, offered gloves with his piping hot sausages. However, instead of returning the gloves, many people would walk away with them, and Feuchtwanger lost profit. It wasn’t until 1883 when his wife thought of a solution: long, soft rolls to perfectly fit the franks!
Others say Charles Feltman is the hot dog king. In 1867, the German butcher began selling hot sausages on rolls out of a pie wagon that he hauled up and down Brooklyn’s Coney Island. Within just a few years, Feltman’s simple pie wagon turned into a restaurant, beer garden and multiple stands. Business boomed until employee, Nathan Handwerker (or Nathan of Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs), broke away and opened his own stand in 1916.
- Babe Ruth once devoured a dozen hot dogs and right bottles of soda between games of a doubleheader.
- Americans put away 7 million hot dogs during peak season (between Memorial Day and Labor Day).
- 10% of annual retail hot dog sales occur during July, also known as National Hog Dog Month.
In the 1800s, many commercial farms in the southern United States started to grow peanuts for oil and livestock and were only known as a food that poor people ate. This changed during the Civil War, where all soldiers valued peanuts as a tasty, convenient and inexpensive snack. After the war, the demand for peanuts rapidly increased, and vendors began selling roasted peanuts on street corners, circuses and baseball games.
- Peanuts aren’t really nuts at all, they’re actually part of the legume family. This means they’re more closely related to peas and lentils than cashews and pecans.
- Some Major League parks now designate special “peanut-free” games to accommodate fans with severe peanut allergies, who may have reactions to peanut dust in the air.
- March is National Peanut Month.
In 1893, popcorn makers Frederick and Louis Rueckheim were determined to give the snack a new twist. After adding molasses and peanuts, they unveiled their salty and sweet snack at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. A few years later, the brothers developed a special formula to keep the ingredients from sticking together. A satisfied customer called the new treat, “crackerjack,” a slang term of the era that translates to “awesome.” Ten years later, Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer incorporated the snack into the song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
- In 2009, Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox, sold roughly 1,000 bags of CrackerJacks per game.
- Some vintage Cracker Jack prizes are valued at more than $7,000.
- July 5th is Cracker Jack Day.