Minor League baseball usually means cheap tickets, weird mascots you've never heard of and six-hour games with scoring in the double digits. And apparently, also some of the most innovative food in baseball.
Last week we looked at Major League Baseball's 2011 roster of signature hot dogs, including a few ridiculous meat-on-meat concoctions. But some of these Minor League hot dog atrocities make those look boring! We're talking one-pound hot dogs loaded with toppings like wasabi, chocolate chips, chipotle ranch dressing, okra, pineapple, frog legs, which are then dipped into funnel cake batter, wrapped in bacon and / or stuffed into twinkies, hamburgers, or even other hot dogs.
On the other hand, once you get past the publicity stunt hot dogs that nobody really eats, the Minor Leagues also have a suprising amount of stadiums serving high quality, often natural casing franks and sausages from small local companies.
Hofmann and Zweigle's are the official dog of several New York State teams. Ohio's Mudhens serve Koegel's hot dogs as well as sausages from a nearby Polish butcher shop. Then you have Klement's dogs at the Iowa Cubs, Smith's at the Erie Seawolves, and Nebraska's Lincoln Saltdogs serving Wimmer's neon red hot dogs launched from a hot dog gun nicknamed Der Viener Schlinger.
The Potomac Nationals, right outside of Washington D.C., have their own Ben's Chili Bowl stand, and Harrisburg's Spot, a legendary hot dog joint that closed in 2007, lives on at the Senators Metro Bank Park, still run by the same family that opened the business in 1939.
Creative hot dogs are nothing new for Minor League baseball. Some of these parks introduce new hot dog variations every year, and researching this article there's a lot of stuff I can't believe I missed. Like the Hagerstown Sun's crunchy peanut butter topped Owner's Dog that was served from 1999 to 2007, or Bryan Voltaggio's pop-up concession stand at a Frederick Keys game last year, featuring a pasture-raised lamb hot dog topped with chow-chow and a side of homemade potato chips.
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