Ballpark Food Moves Away from the Cheap Eats Going to a baseball game isn't what it used to be. For one thing, the food has gone upscale. Essayist Bonny Wolf buys into Humphrey Bogart's old line: "A hot dog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz." But she also takes note of trendier cuisine.

Ballpark Food Moves Away from the Cheap Eats

Ballpark Food Moves Away from the Cheap Eats

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Downing a dog at Soldier Field in Chicago. PR News Service hide caption

toggle caption
PR News Service


From the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

Everyday guidance for eating America's sacred food

Don't... put hot dog toppings between the hot dog and the bun. Always "dress the dog," not the bun. Condiments should be applied in the following order: wet condiments like mustard and chili are applied first, followed by chunky condiments like relish, onions and sauerkraut, followed by shredded cheese, followed by spices, like celery salt or pepper.

Do... serve sesame seed, poppy seed and plain buns with hot dogs. Sun-dried tomato buns or basil buns are considered gauche with franks.

Don't... use a cloth napkin to wipe your mouth when eating a hot dog. Paper is always preferable.

Do... eat hot dogs on buns with your hands. Utensils should not touch hot dogs on buns.

Do... use paper plates to serve hot dogs. Every day dishes are acceptable; china is a no-no.

Don't... take more than five bites to finish a hot dog. For a foot-long wiener, seven bites are acceptable.

Don't... leave bits of bun on your plate. Eat it all. Fresh herbs on the same plate with hot dogs are a major "Don't..."

Mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are acceptable.

Don't... use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18.

Do... Condiments remaining on the fingers after eating a hot dog should be licked away, not washed.

Do... use multi-colored toothpicks to serve cocktail wieners. Cocktail forks are in poor taste.

Don't... send a thank you note following a hot dog barbecue. It would not be in keeping with the unpretentious nature of hot dogs.

Don't... bring wine to a hot dog barbecue. Beer, soda, lemonade and iced tea are preferable.

Don't... ever think there is a wrong time to serve hot dogs.

Web Resources

Going to the ballpark isn't what it used to be, and the worst of it may be the way the food has gone upscale. Essayist Bonny Wolf, a lifelong Minnesota Twins fan, buys into Humphrey Bogart's old line: "A hot dog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz." However, while you can still get hot dogs and crackerjacks and cotton candy, you can also get coconut prawns, micro-brews, or a Napa Valley Chardonay.

Here are recipes for ballpark chow that Babe Ruth never sent the batboy to fetch:

The Ultimate Crab Cake

Chef Russell Szekely

ARAMARK Corporation, Oriole Park @ Camden Yards

This is one of three crabcakes served at Camden Yards. This is the crabcake made for Orioles senior executives.

Servings: 6

Yield: 12 each


3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/4 cups mayonnaise

2 eggs

3 tablespoons Old Bay Seafood seasoning

2 teaspoons lemon juice

4 pounds crab meat, fresh jumbo lump

4 slices white bread, crusts removed, diced


In a mixing bowl, whisk together mustard, Worcestershire, mayonnaise, eggs, Old Bay seasoning and lemon juice.

In a separate large mixing bowl, gently toss the crab meat with the diced bread.

Fold the mustard mixture into the bread and crab meat, making sure not to break up the lumps.

Allow the finished blend to rest under refrigeration for 30 minutes or so.

Portion and form the crab cakes into 5-6 ounce balls. Lay them onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet.

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Bake the crab cakes until golden brown and heated to 145 degrees internal temp, flipping them over once during cooking.

Serve as a sandwich or main course with your favorite sides.

Top Dog Slaw

Chef Brett Lewis

Centerplate, Inc., Yankee Stadium

This relish is one of several served with the premium all-beef, kosher, 1/4-pound hot dog (called a Top Dog) sold at Yankee Stadium. When it was introduced last year, hot dog sales went up more than 200 percent.

Yield: 3 lbs.


2 lb green cabbage, chopped

1 1/2 cup red onion, small dice

3/4 cup dill pickle, grated

1/2 cup red bell pepper, small dice


1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.

2. Toss with dressing no more than one day prior to service.

3. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.



1 cup sugar

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp celery seed

salt and white pepper to taste


1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.

2. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Serve on hot dogs and pretend you're at a Yankees' game.