Trend Translations: Ballpark Eats

Stadiums capture the increasingly adventurous, eclectic American palate

By  Abbie Westra, Editor-in-Chief, Convenience Store Products

Arctic Nachos at Angel Stadium

MINNEAPOLIS -- Today’s consumers want to be surprised and delighted at every transaction--increasingly so when it comes to their meals. The democratization of foodie culture is rarely as evident as watching Seattle Mariners fans feast on sushi rolls at Safeco Field, or White Sox fans order elotes (corn topped with mayonnaise, parmesan, lime juice and chili powder) at U.S. Cellular Field.

In recent years, contract feeders have done an impressive job bringing local flavor to the ballpark--often with a twist you can’t get outside the gates, one that makes you willing to spend $10 on a meal.

At least it works on me. I have a note on my iPhone listing the sections where my favorite foods are at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. Fried pickles? That’s section 133. Kramarczuk’s Polish sausage? Sections 113, 117 and 312. Surly Bandwagon—a local brew only available at the stadium? Just look for the line perpetually 40 people deep between third plate and home.

While I have the folks at Delaware North to thank for my Cuban sandwich, made-to-order stir-fry station and build-your-own potato bar at Twins games (yes, I watch some of the game), Aramark has also found a clever way to customize a classic ballpark meal in each of its stadiums. It’s using nachos as a template to capture of flavor of a city.

Here’s a look at Aramark’s signature nacho roster, rolled out this year:

Angel Stadium (Anaheim, Calif.)
Chicken or Beef Barbacoa Nachos: Chips topped with charro chili beans, chicken or beef barbacoa, queso, pickled jalapeno, black bean relish with habanero, avocado sour cream and mild salsa
Arctic Nachos: Crispy flour tortilla sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and topped with vanilla bean ice cream, Hershey’s syrup and caramel sauce

Citi Field (New York)
Pastracho: Fresh fried corn tortilla chips topped with chopped New York pastrami, Swiss cheese sauce, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and sliced scallions  

Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia)
Ancho Pepper Braised Pork Nacho: Chips topped with ancho pepper braised pork, nacho cheese, fresh tomato salsa, fresh jalapenos and sour cream
Barbecue Chicken Nachos: Chips topped with slow roasted chicken braised in barbecue sauce with nacho cheese, black beans, fresh tomato salsa and sour cream

Coors Field (Denver)
Colorado Queso: Fresh corn chips with spicy chorizo sausage covered with Monterrey jack and green chili cheese sauce topped with pico di gallo and sour cream
S'more Nacho: Fresh tortilla chips fried then coated in graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon. Topped with warm marshmallow fluff, drizzled in chocolate sauce and finished with M&M minis and mini marshmallows

Fenway Park (Boston)
Kickin’ Chicken Nacho: Shredded chicken tossed in buffalo sauce over warmed corn chips with blue cheese dressing and blue cheese crumbles, served with a carrot and celery stick

Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City)
Cheesy Corn Brisket-acho: Chips topped with smoked brisket, baked beans, cheesy corn and coleslaw drizzled with barbecue sauce

Minute Maid Park (Houston)
Barbecue Brisket Nacho: Tortilla chips topped with smoked, cubed brisket, nacho cheese and corn salsa Coliseum (Oakland)
Cholula Kalua Nacho: Yellow corn tortilla chips topped with seasoned cheese sauce, fresh tomato salsa, avocado cream and Cholula infused Kalua shredded pork

PNC Park (Pittsburgh)
Bucco Nacho: Lime tortilla chips topped with ground beef, smoked jalapeno peach salsa, cilantro creme fraiche, and nacho cheese

Rogers Centre (Toronto)
Big Smoke Jerk Chicken Nacho: Tri-colored tortilla chips topped with cheddar cheese sauce, smoked jerk chicken, pico de gallo, scallions, country slaw and jerk-infused sour cream

Turner Field (Atlanta)
Chili Cheese Pico Nachos: Santita chips, house made chili, shredded cheddar and Jack cheese, pico, jalapeños, sour cream, cilantro and green onion
Sweet and Sour BBQ Carnita Nachos: Santita chips, house smoked pork, sweet and sour barbecue sauce, barbecue beans, shredded cheddar, green onion, bread and butter pickles

What does your city or market have to offer by way of flavor inspiration? What other popular foods could serve as a canvas for countless ingredient combinations (we’ve already done it with burgers; now grilled cheese is on deck), and for balancing familiar favorites with adventurous ingredients?

Next time you’re at a ball game, take a couple of minutes to study the foodservice offerings. It might spark your next big menu idea.

By Abbie Westra, Editor-in-Chief, Convenience Store Products
View More Articles By Abbie Westra