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The strangest new MLB ballpark food of 2016

MLB’s latest offerings include cauliflower poutine and a burger-pizza mashup.

While the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimated that baseball fans would consume more than 18.5 million hot dogs during the 2015 Major League season, ballpark concessionaires are banking on diners’ hunger for something a little more offbeat. As fans and foodies look ahead to opening day of the 2016 MLB season on Sunday, FoodService Director scanned the menus of baseball’s biggest parks to see check out some of the craziest dishes in the lineup.

Buffalo Cauliflower Poutine

buffalo cauliflower poutine

Toronto Blue Jays’ Rogers Centre

This cauliflower isn’t instantly recognizable—naturally, since we’re talking poutine, the vegetables are deep-fried. The dish, from Rogers Centre foodservice contractor Aramark, finds the florets lightly breaded, tossed in buffalo hot sauce and topped with cheese curds, “cheesy” gravy and chopped scallions. While poutine traditionally is made with French fries, a plethora of variations have popped up in recent years, leading us to believe that “Will it be poutine?” must be a popular topic of conversation among chefs and operators.

Lamb Koefte Burrito

lamb koefte burrito

Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park, Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field, Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park, Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium, Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park, Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park

Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern developed four signature items this season for Aramark ballparks. This burrito combines lamb, fried eggplant slices, tomato-cucumber salad, green hot sauce and tahini inside a tortilla. The maximum portability of a burrito is a smart vehicle for these flavors, especially since it comes inside an adorable Zimmern-themed paper sleeve, and the fried eggplant may add an interesting crunch.

The Flying Pig

the flying pig

Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park

When pigs fly, do they end up in peanut curry ranch sauce? That appears to be the outcome for this bone-in, deep-fried pork shank dish, also served with a side of sweet-chili apple slaw. The idea is somewhat reminiscent of gnawing on a fried turkey leg—but these smaller bites look much easier to wrangle in the bleacher seats without dropping hunks of meat on your neighbor.

Burgerizza

burgerizza

Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field

Braves foodservice provider Delaware North seems to have had the most fun of all vendors with its wacky offerings this season. We’ll start with the simplest of these creations—the Burgerizza. Yes, it’s literally a 20-ounce burger patty topped with bacon and five slices of cheddar cheese, served inside two 8-inch pepperoni pizzas. The Burgerizza seems like a childhood dream that woke up as an adult nightmare.

The Everything Dog

the everything dog

Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field

The Everything Dog is made for the foodie who loves all ballpark snacks, but hates wasting time in line. A footlong hot dog is topped with fries, chili, nacho chips, beer cheese, jalapenos, popcorn and Coca-Cola-infused barbecue sauce, served in a pretzel bun. It wouldn’t be unfair to call The Everything Dog the trail mix of hot dogs, but how much are diners really able to distinguish between flavors here? This also seems like a great opportunity to create spinoff versions using leftovers from other food stations. Cotton candy-peanut-salsa, anyone?

The “Punisher”

the punisher

Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field

While it’s not specified who, exactly, is being punished here, we have a few guesses. The “Punisher,” a deep-fried barbecue rib sandwich with fried onion rings and Monster Energy Drink-infused barbecue sauce, is festooned with several strips of bacon that are skewered above its top bun. No word on whether that energy drink infusion will boost fans’ cheering power.

Cheeseburger Dog

cheeseburger dog

Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field

Basically a cheeseburger disguised as a hot dog, the Cheeseburger Dog is made from char-grilled hamburgers formed into dog shape and deep-fried. Topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato and secret sauce, the Cheeseburger Dog could be a safe entry point for newbie foodies.

Cracker Jack & Mac Dog

cracker jack & mac dog

Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park

Our final entrant in the hot dog category is in stiff competition with The Everything Dog for most creative toppings. The footlong Cracker Jack & Mac Dog features Cracker Jacks, macaroni and cheese, salted caramel sauce and fried jalapenos on naan bread. Squishy, crunchy, cheesy, salty, sweet and spicy sounds like a lot for one all-beef dog to handle, but the accompanying bag of Cracker Jacks might make this dog a selfie winner on social media.

Dinger’s Donuts

donut helmet

St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium

Want to instantly hike a dish’s popularity and create upsell value? Put it in a helmet! Unscientific research finds nachos taste 97 percent more delicious when served in a plastic helmet, and these fresh-fried mini doughnuts, topped with a diner’s choice of toppings including chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles, tackle the sweet tooth. Reminder: Rinse the helmet out before wearing.

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