The creative team behind the Texas Rangers' concessions dreamed of wrapping a 24-inch hot dog in bacon, dipping it in batter and frying it, resulting in whoa-that's-a-big-corn-dog corn dog.
Here was the dilemma: "We couldn't find a stick that we were comfortable with that, once removed, couldn't be used as a weapon," said Casey Rapp, general manager for Delaware North Sportservice at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
These are the typical problems Rapp and his team handle in the world of big, fried food.
They are single-handedly responsible for the Rangers' oversized, high-priced monstrosities like the Boomstick, a 24-inch hot dog that comes with its own carrying case. (That case had to be specially fabricated by a D-FW company -- because a disposable hot-dog suitcase didn't formerly exist, natch.)
Although the State Fair of Texas has helped make wacky foods into national news, ballparks -- and specifically, the early-adopter Rangers concessions team -- latched onto that tradition. Rapp attributes our newish obsession with crazy food to TV shows such as Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.
The Boomstick gave the Rangers an international audience and an everything's-bigger-in-Texas angle.
"Everybody wanted to talk about it," Rapp says of the Boomstick, created in 2012. "We printed shirts, we had hot dog eating contests. The next year, we turned a golf cart into a giant hot dog. I think that's how the ball got rolling with crazy food items."
Soon, Globe Life Park had an entire concession stand near home plate devoted to giant food. In the coming seasons, Delaware North Sportservice unleashed the Tanaco, the Kaboom Kabob, the Choomongous, the Beltre Buster and other seriously hefty foods. Each came with their own stories, and, often, their own carrying cases.
You might call the Rangers' new foods gimmicky. But fans seem to embrace the "gotcha" personality behind each new dish.
Take this year's Rangers postseason foods, for instance: There's a tamale with a hot dog hiding in the middle; there's a brisket and mac and cheese sandwich topped with -- wait for it -- caramel corn?; there's a Philly cheesesteak with appetizers on top: onion rings, fried jalapenos, waffle fries and mozzarella sticks. And then there's the craziest of them all: a 2-pound bacon cheeseburger with ghost pepper sauce. This thing could feed a family of four. And it costs $27.
The Rangers' stiffest competition for most outrageous concessions is the Arizona Diamondbacks. "We're always seeing who can top the other one," Rapp says.
The Diamondbacks found a home run with its churro dog in 2015. The Rangers then released their own dessert, a 24-inch brownie dipped in funnel cake batter and fried. The Elvis Jabberdog certainly made headlines.
Other sports teams are getting in on the foodie action. The Green Bay Packers, specifically, have gone whole hog on crazy foods. (See the 22-inch kielbasa sausage called the Horse Collar. It's still shorter than most Rangers' foods. Just sayin'.) Some of the other oversized ballpark foods in the past few years have included the Atlanta Braves' 20-ounce burger served between two 8-inch pepperoni pizzas; the Chicago White Sox's banana split served with 12 scoops of ice cream; and the Washington Nationals' 8-pound burger for $59.
By now, you're either really hungry or feeling like you need to diet. Or both.
The larger the dish, the more expensive it will likely be at Globe Life Park. Rapp won't pretend that $27 is a good price for a burger for one person. But it's not a bad price for a burger that feeds four.
"Once we saw fans were willing to pay for something they could share that was also a high-quality, interesting product, that's when you saw it blowing up," Rapp says. In fact, his team was initially prepared to sell only a few-dozen of the higher-priced items. Wrong: They sold 500 Boomsticks the first game they became available. They still sell more than 100 of them per game, Rapp says -- and they've been around more than four years.
In Dallas-Fort Worth, at least, these foods have come to define the quintessential Texas Rangers experience.
"We like to say that baseball is an 'eating' sport because we have so many natural breaks in the game," says Rangers Executive Vice President of Business Operations Rob Matwick. "This allows our fans time to walk around the building and smell the aromas, see the food being taken from the grill and prepared, then handed across the counter to enjoy."
As you reach toward your carbalicious dish, please, don't forget: Use two hands.
For more wacky food stories, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.