Big League Chew from Origins of Iconic Sports Foods Slideshow

Origins of Iconic Sports Foods Slideshow

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Big League Chew

While trying to make a comeback in 1977 with the Portland Mavericks, pitcher Jim Bouton was sitting in the bullpen with teammate Rob Nelson who noted it was too bad someone didn't make gum that looked like chewing tobacco. When the season was over Bouton put money behind the idea, designed a pouch, and made some gum that they chopped up. Amurol Products, a novelty gum company in Illinois, launched Big League Chew in 1980 and sold $18 million at wholesale. As Bouton's site notes, the gum still sells today, having (thankfully) replaced chewing tobacco at many high schools and colleges.

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Buy Me Some Peanuts...

Empty shells on the ground, thin brown casings fluttering on the summer breeze — there are perhaps few foods as linked to a sport as peanuts are to baseball. According to the National Peanut Board, peanuts originated in South America, were grown commercially in South Carolina in the 1800s and were popularized during the Civil War.

 

Vendors began selling peanuts on the street and at events like Barnum & Bailey Circuses starting in 1870. In 1901 peanut vending machines started showing up. A few years later the link between peanuts (actually legumes) and baseball was cemented forever by Jack Norworth's famous 1908 classic, Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Now Americans eat more than 600 million pounds of peanuts a year.

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You Better Eat Your Wheaties

A Minneapolis health clinician spilled wheat bran mixture on a hot stove, creating some wheat flakes, so the story goes. The idea was brought to the attention of General Mills' predecessor, the Washburn Crosby Company. In 1924 Washburn's Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes hit the shelves, but was soon renamed Wheaties as a result of an employee contest. The cereal's inextricable link to sports started with sponsorship of minor league baseball broadcasts and a sign on the left field wall at Nicollet Park in 1933. The Breakfast of Champions never looked back.

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Hot Dogs

The Dodger Dog. Nathan's. The Fenway Frank. When it comes to involving bread does any food get more iconic in the sports world than the hot dog? The link between the two began with baseball around 1893 when Chris von der Ahe, the owner of the then St. Louis Brown Stockings (now the Cardinals), started having them sold at games.

 

Now, hot dogs are sold at practically every sporting venue across America, but few would argue that the Dodger Dog is the most iconic. About 25,000 of these ten-inch dogs are sold at every game. They were invented in 1962 by Thomas Arthur, the first concessions manager of Dodger Stadium. Ten years later, fans were up in arms when a new company took over the concessions and tried to switch from grilling to boiling. Now you can get them steamed or grilled, all-beef, picante (spicy), and kosher.

 

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Buffalo Wings

Think of every Super Bowl party you've ever hosted or attended. Consider any bar fare you've ever consumed while watching a game. What's the most iconic? If you said "beer" it would be difficult to argue. But with that you'd probably identify Buffalo wings as one of the most iconic sports foods ever.

 

Buffalo wings were invented by Teressa Bellissimo in 1964 and were first served at a family-owned spot in Buffalo called Anchor Bar. Bellissimo covered wings in a special sauce and served them with blue cheese and celery because she had them on hand. As Time noted, there are at least two origin stories. The first has Teressa coming up with the idea after receiving an accidental shipment of wings. The second, from her son Dominic, claims they were a midnight snack she created at his request. The Bellissimos have since passed away, but the dish isn't going anywhere.

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... And Cracker Jack

F.W. Rueckheim introduced Cracker Jack at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. His brother supposedly gave the snack to a salesman, who proclaimed, "That's a Cracker Jack!" But Cracker Jack's link to baseball has a lot to do with two other men — Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer — the writer and composer of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. The free publicity has been helping sales ever since. Ironic considering they supposedly didn't make it to a game until about 20 years after writing the song.

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Snow Cones

 

Asian variations of snow cones have existed since the 19th century, but Sam Bert made the first recorded snow cones in America in 1919 at the Texas state fair in Dallas. Following those, Ernest Hansen patented the first ice-shaving machine in 1934. Snow cones are generally paper cones filled with crushed ice and topped with flavored sugar syrup.

 

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Corn Dogs

 

The exact origin of corn dogs is unknown, but showed up in the US by the 1920s and had become extremely popular in the 1940s. Over twenty various locations claim that they invented the corn dog and references to corn dog stands can be found as early as 1947.

 

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Onion Rings

While the chain of Pig Stand restaurants claims they invented onion rings in the 1920s, similar to corn dogs, the exact origin of the recipe is unknown. A recipe for onion rings did appear in a 1933 Crisco advertisement, which said to dip the rings into milk and then flour before frying.

 

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Gilroy Garlic Fries

They're one of the best and most iconic stadium foods in America, the Gilroy garlic fries at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Their invention is credited to Dan Gordon of Gordon Biersch who created the garlic and fry combination as a late night snack during finals in grad school. The concession stands in the ballpark are infamous for the marvelous smell of stinking rose that wafts from them.

 

There are quality imitators, like at Yankee Stadium, but they haven't caught on to a smart garlic fry concession move in San Francisco: multiple locations. At AT&T the fries are on Promenade Level Sec. 103, 118, 130; View Level Sec. 311, 323, 331; Field Level; and Lower Center Field. There's just one crowded stand with long lines in the Bronx.

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Kansas City-Style Tailgate Barbecue

Tailgating likely started with picnics before college football games, but in the world of competitive sports, who tailgates the best? You can argue all you want about which part of the U.S. has the country's best regional style of barbecue, but with more than 100 barbecue restaurants and some hard-core cooking contests, it's no stretch to say that Kansas City is the country's barbecue capital. Along with that title is a well-known tradition of tailgating at Chiefs games — and that means Kansas City barbecue.

 

When and where did that start? It can't hurt that legendary barbecue joint Arthur Bryant's was within four blocks of Municipal stadium, onetime home of the Blues, Athletics, and Chiefs.

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Wimbledon: Strawberries and Cream

During Wimbledon more than 20 tons of fruit (more than two million berries) and 1,820 gallons of cream are consumed as the event's signature dish, strawberries and cream, is consumed. Tennis and strawberries... why this bizarre combination? Legend dictates that King George V is responsible, but as The New York Times reported, the tradition dates to the era of the first Wimbledon tournament in 1877. Strawberries and cream were fashionable to eat and the seasonality coincided with the event. 

 

Wimbledon's other iconic culinary icon, while its association is younger, is certainly more spirited. Champagne was Wimbledon's original beverage of choice, but the Pimm's Cup is better known now. The first Pimm's bar at Wimbledon opened in 1971. Its popularity grew and today more than 80,000 pints of Pimm's and lemonade are sold there annually.

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Martinsville Speedway's Chili Dogs

At least 50,000 chili dogs are sold the day of NASCAR races. Dale Earnhardt reportedly liked to eat them before qualifying (he said they gave him "extra octane"). The recipe is secret, but includes slaw, chili, and onions. How did the connection start? Innocently enough, according to the track's website. Decades ago, a hot dog with slaw, chili, fresh onions and a few other secret ingredients were wrapped in waxed paper and sold in Martinsville Speedway’s concession stands. They've been a staple ever since.

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Origins of Iconic Sports Foods Slideshow

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