Consumers seek unique flavor and ingredient experiences as ballparks set pace with offbeat innovation.
Major League Baseball stadiums have become increasingly adventurous in their efforts to create unique and enjoyable dining experiences for attendees.
In addition to partnering with local chefs and restaurateurs to bring new concepts into the stadiums, ballpark foodservice providers also continue to innovate by putting their own spin on classic stadium desserts and foods and conjuring creative mash. ups. These ballpark food ideas can include everything from hot dogs-topped breakfast cereal to donut burgers and freak milkshakes fortified with chunks of cheesecake or churros.
This year Aramark Sports + Entertainment rolled out a “Dare to Pair” foodservice program that celebrates “unlikely, yet delicious food combinations,” the company says.
Each year, the design and development team at Aramark Sports + Entertainment creates new programming for the company’s culinary leaders to activate across its nine client accounts, says Alicia Woznicki, vice president of design and development for Aramark Sports + Entertainment.
Menu experimentation draws fans
“Using trends, competitor analysis and market research as a guide, we develop new campaigns with innovative and creative menu items that we feel will create fan engagement and enhance the experience on game days,” she says. “This year we saw a trend in unlikely food combos as part of that research and wanted to bring some experimentation to the ballpark experience as a result.”
Among the new snacks and ballpark food ideas Aramark introduced this year are Fluffer Nutter Fries, which feature sweet potato French fries topped with crushed peanuts, cilantro, peanut sauce and fluff sauce. The salty-sweet fries are available at Fenway Park in Boston, home of the Red Sox. Also new this year is Pickle Poutine, made with fried pickle straws, peanut butter gravy, cheese curds, bacon bits and fresh dill scallions, available at Rogers Centre in Toronto, home of the Blue Jays. In addition, the PBJ Burger, a beef patty topped with peanut butter, jalapeño jelly, American cheese and bacon on a brioche bun, is on the menu at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
As pandemic restrictions have eased, consumers have embraced engaging experiences, says Woznicki.
“Programs like Dare to Pair ensure an experience for our guests while allowing us to flex our creative and culinary muscle to embrace trends and consumer desires,” she says.
Aramark researched the science of pairing unlikely food combinations, and then gave its culinary experts some loose parameters to create the specific flavor and ingredient combinations, Woznicki says.
Unique and delicious pairings
“The executive chefs really embraced it and worked with their teams to make a variety of really unique and delicious pairings for this MLB season,” she says.
One of the most successful baseball park menu item mash-ups has been the Churro Dog treat at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. First introduced in 2015, it was upgraded to the Churro Dog 2.0 two years later, and has been widely recognized as one of the best ballpark dessert items. It includes an OREO churro on a split Long John donut with vanilla ice cream and OREO Pieces.
“It’s one of the preeminent stadium foods and a benchmark for all baseball desserts,” the website Thrillist says in a recent roundup of baseball stadium desserts and foods.
In fact, fans voted it as the best donut-based ballpark offering in 2016 for a Major League Baseball promotion centered around National Donut Day, which takes place every year on June 3.
Churros are also on the menu at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox., where Levy Restaurants this year unveiled the Cinnamon Churro Milkshake at the Stadium Club Bar venue. The treat starts with homemade horchata and vanilla ice cream, and is served with a cinnamon sugar-dusted churro for dipping.
Other stadiums have also embraced dessert-mash-up milkshakes as concessions, including Yankee Stadium in New York, where Legends Hospitality has introduced Grand Slam Shakes in souvenir cups at several stations in the ballpark. The Little Italy, for example, features a vanilla or chocolate milkshake, topped with chocolate drizzle, a mini cannoli and Yankee sprinkles, while the Blue, White & Gold Milkshake, by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, features vanilla ice cream, fresh blueberries, cheesecake chunks, graham cracker crumbs, whipped cream and gold glitter.
It’s clear that ballpark food ideas have evolved well beyond basic hot dogs, popcorn and peanuts. Fans eager to enjoy new flavor experiences are able to choose from an array of new mash-ups, as chefs experiment with ingredient combinations and keep ballpark food ideas on the cutting edge of their unique niche in culinary innovation.
Contact the Foodservice team over at Mondelēz International to partner on developing crave-worthy menu items that will knock it out of the park!
Flavorful Treats Among Ballpark Mashups
Baseball stadiums provide a platform for summer treats that feature unique flavor and ingredient experiences. Foodservice providers often have the freedom to exercise some creativity and experiment with new dessert and stadium snack ideas products and concepts.
Sweet ’N Salty Wowfull
At the Wowfulls at Citi Field in New York, home of the New York Mets, customers can enjoy ice cream and waffles together in a cone made from fluffy, breakfast-style waffles. The idea for this stadium snack is based on 1950's-style Hong Kong egg waffles known as Gai Dàn Jai. Pictured is the Sweet ’N Salty, which includes salted caramel cheesecake ice cream topped with OREO crumbs, caramel sauce, Pocky sticks and powdered sugar.
Cinnamon Churro Milkshake
Milkshakes are a popular stadium snack idea at several ballparks, especially when they reflect the home team in some way. These are often inspired by the “freak shake” trend that incorporates multiple desserts and snacks, although the ballpark versions tend not to be as extreme. The Cinnamon Churro Milkshake at Guaranteed Rate Field, where the Chicago White Sox play, features homemade horchata and vanilla ice cream, along with a cinnamon sugar dusted churro.
Spicy Gourmet Popcorn
Bon Appetit Management Co. offers a rotating assortment of popcorn flavors, including some spicy varieties such as jalapeño cheddar and blazing hot ghost pepper, at Oracle Park in San Francisco, home of the Giants baseball team. Other flavors include banana, chocolate, grape and “spookie fruit” — these stadium snack ideas are a reflection of today’s adventurous consumers.
In another nod to adventurous eaters, Aramark is offering an alternative to the locally popular poutine-topped French Fries at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Instead of potato fries, this baseball concession stand food idea starts with a base of fried pickle straws, topped with peanut butter gravy, cheese curds, bacon bits and fresh dill scallions.
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