Baseball is, of course, America’s pastime, ingrained into our cultural consciousness to the point where even non-sporting naysayers can’t help but feel a twinge of nostalgia hearing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on a warm and sunny spring day. So it comes as no surprise that the game most closely linked with our nation’s psyche is also the one to offer the most unbelievably excessive stadium foods—usually towering paper plates of deep-fried decadence.
But don’t worry, there are still old-school hawkers in the stands, hurling bags of warm peanuts or delivering hot dogs to those too lazy, inebriated, or locked in to leave their seats. Yet if you want to really have the modern ballpark experience, and believe me you do, you’re going to have to channel your inner Harry Caray and wait in line at the concession stand. Home team not getting it done? It doesn’t matter when you have a smorgasbord of meats, breads, sauces, and cheese in front of you.
You’d think that with the proliferation of healthy eating habits baseball would have jumped on the bandwagon, offering salads and wraps and veggie burgers. And, to be fair, they do. But it’s hard for a soy patty to stand up to the lubricious pizzazz of a glistening tower of deep fried everything. The options are overwhelming, with stadiums seemingly in an arms race of caloric catastrophe to see who can craft the most “OMG WTF?!” items. (Be warned: You’d literally keel over from cardiac distress if you tried all of them.) To save your summer—and your body—we’ve compiled a short list of the most over-the-top, bucket list-worthy entrees. All you need are tickets to the game, an appetite for destruction, elastic-waisted pants, and a fistful full of Wet-Naps.
Baltimore Orioles’ The Walk Off
Baltimore is a crab town. So when Camden Yards staple Dempsey’s—named for legendary Baltimore Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey—wanted to go big, stuffing a giant sausage into a pretzel roll, they brought it all home with a healthy dose of crab dip. The concoction is then baked and turns into a mass of ultra-rich radness. The Walk Off has become a modern classic, and, at just $15, a relatively affordable way to get a week’s worthy of calories.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Fan vs. Food Challenge
You know what’s better than watching baseball in 90-degree heat and 100-percent humidity? Doing it while you sweat your way through mounds of meat and carbohydrates. Every year, the Rays have a food challenge designed to find major league eaters, and this year they’ve really stepped it up: One pound each of brisket, pork, mac and cheese, chicken wings, and French fries. Not enough for you? No problem. The dish also includes four slices of buttery Texas toast. Sure, you may knock a few years off your life, but if you manage to clean your plate in less than 30 minutes, you get two tickets to the next game and a shirt declaring your accomplishment. Plus, it doubles as a mop to wipe the grease sweat off your brow.
Braves’ The Burgerizza
Atlanta is not even remotely messing around when it comes to mind-blowing, gut-busting creations. In a city where smushing meat and nacho cheez into a bag of Fritos is considered a snack and a hot dog-enshrouded pizza would be passé, the Burgerizza stands out. For $26 you get two 8-inch pepperoni pizzas with a pound and a quarter of cheddar-slathered grilled beef and some crispy bacon.
Braves’ The Punisher
Burgerizza too banal for your refined taste buds? Atlanta ain’t done yet. For those seeking a more exotic chance to cheerfully chew their way to a coronary bypass, the Punisher sandwich should do the trick. It’s a mountain of deep-fried short rib, topped with onion rings and served on a bun with skewers of bacon rising above the monstrosity like flags signaling the victory of gluttony over common sense. But that’s not all. Just in case you lack the energy to keep chewing when only halfway through this gastronomic Frankenstein, it’s paired with a special Monster Energy drink-infused barbecue sauce that delivers a caffeinated kick to your beleaguered heart.
Yankees’ Barnyard Wedding
Not to be outdone, New York’s Yankees have thrown their ball cap in the heart attack ring as well, with the poetically named Barnyard Wedding. The dish combines a cheeseburger with fried chicken, hash browns, and cheese and is, naturally, topped with barbecue sauce and served on a pretzel bun. This is a great bambino of a sandwich that will ensure you get some sleep in the city that never does. Just don’t eat it while wearing a Red Sox jersey, or the biggest threat you encounter may not be to your waistline and dignity.
Twins’ Cluck and Moo Bloody Mary
All this eating has to have you parched but don’t settle for just any beverage after a gluttonous gastro-bacchanalia. At Minnesota’s Target Field you can slake your thirst with the Cluck and Moo Bloody Mary. Don’t be fooled by its folky name, it’s a Bloody Mary that’s topped with a hefty buffalo chicken wing and cheeseburger slider. Garnish it with a smoked sausage corsage, and you’ve got yourself a refreshing concoction to enjoy as the world fades to black.
Brewers’ Pulled Pork Parfait
Wait! You need dessert! And if you’ve gotten this far you’ve certainly earned nothing but the best. End your night with one of the Milwaukee Brewers’ pulled pork parfaits, a meaty treat so notorious it has its own Twitter account. While it may look like an ice cream Sunday, it’s in fact a pile of tender, sauce-slathered hunks of pulled pork finished with a dollop of mashed potatoes and a baked bean cherry on top. It is exactly as magnificent as it sounds. Who needs ice cream when you have meat and potatoes?