That's Nuts

A weekly dose of nutty history, pop culture, and recipes from Lee Zalben, aka The Peanut Butter Guy.

Do You Buy Peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Baseball Games?

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[Photograph: Lucy Baker]

No matter who you're cheering for at the baseball stadium, we're all on Team Concession Stand, right? You can't fight the hot dogs and whiffs of roasted peanuts. And really, why should you?

Peanuts are forever linked to baseball in the game's anthem, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer in 1908. We all know the song—it's really just the chorus of a longer tune about a man asking woman out. In the now famous line, "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack," the gal lets her suitor know what she'd like to munch at the game.

There are four main cultivars of peanuts: Runners, Virginias, Spanish, and Valencias. Virginias are the type most commonly sold roasted in the shell at ballparks. Sometimes you can even find roasted, shelled peanuts that are already salted.

Ever wonder how they get the salt in the shell without opening it up first? They soak the raw peanuts in salt water, then drain and roast them. The residual water evaporates during the roasting process, but its salty goodness stays behind. Aha, mystery solved!

There are of course plenty of snacks to munch on at a ball game; some stadiums even serve sushi. But I think the song gets it right with peanuts and Cracker Jacks (which also contain peanuts, so the song really is a double endorsement for peanuts). Baseball is a game with a lot of lulls, and shelling peanuts is a fun way to pass the time.

Do you like eating peanuts and Cracker Jacks when you go to a ballgame? When you watch form home, do you eat them to make you feel like you're there? What are your favorite ballpark snacks?

About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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