Take Me Out To The Ballgame // June 2016 Mantry
Food tastes better outside. We know this. An overdone burger, a handful of half-melted GORP, a greasy taco — Yelp-able offenses served indoors, but set with a backyard grill, campsite, or food truck parking lot, all become delicious. And no place does more for mediocre food than a ballpark, elevating goopy nachos and overpriced hotdogs to true-blue patriotic delicacies. But if minor-league snacks play that well on a sunny diamond, imagine a home team of all stars: home-run munchies no matter the setting, seasoned with the crack of a bat and the smell of just-mowed infield. A dream? Perhaps. But until your local stadium starts shooting gourmet PB+Js and crunchy hand-twirled pretzels from a mascot-fired air-cannon, we offer you this season’s crate.
Applewood Bacon Jerky // Chef’s Cut // New York, NY
While T-ballers stuff their cheeks with bubblegum and old-timers chew tobacco (both with the tooth decay to prove it), we’d rather something manlier — and meatier. And because the only thing worse than wads of gum and tobacco juice on the dugout bench is a cast-iron skillet splattering grease, here’s bacon ready to eat: hand-cut, uncured, and applewood-smoked until thin and crispy. Snack solo, or top a cheesedog — pop in the broiler for extra crunch.
Big John’s Habanero Chips // Preservation & Co. // Sacramento, CA
If you beeline to the fixins station after picking up your seventh-inning snack, if your nachos never quite singe to satisfaction, if an extra hot sauce packet is never enough, these are the pickles for you. Made from Cali-grown cukes and served at Sacto’s Raley’s Field, the hot habaneros and extra spice make for a daring nibble on its own, or a punchy topper to sandwiches, dogs, or nachos.
Honey Peanut Butter // HomePlate // Austin, TX
Imagined by a team of former pro ballplayers who snacked on spoonfuls of Jif and slapped-together PB+Js between innings, this grown-up spread swipes the extra sugar that pads lesser butters, mops up the oil that slicks those “natural” varieties, and tops it all off with a curveball twist: a swirl of honey. That makes for a switch-hitting spread, savory sweet, the perfect accompaniment to bananas, ice cream, toast, or, hell — cue the Elvis — all three.
BBQ Infused Honey // RogersMade // Chattanooga, TN
The husband-and-wife team behind RogersMade stocks an eclectic mix of handmade goodies from their southern artist and foodie friends, from soap to soda, but our favorite has to be their line of Bee in Your Bonnet honeys: locally foraged golden goodness infused with a whole hive of flavors, like this one, spiked with pepper, tomatoes, cider vinegar, and hickory smoked sea salt. While it might not fly in your sleepytime tea, it does wonders for — trust us — a nacho platter. Pile chips, chicken, corn, and cheddar on an oiled tray, bake until melty, and top with cilantro, cotija, and a lengthy drizzle.
Maple Sugar & Sea Salt Pumpkin Seeds // SuperSeedz // North Haven, CT
Sunflower-snacking pros spend more time spitting shells and picking teeth than eating — you can cut to the chase with these husk-less wonders. Dry roasted in small batches with tons of natural seasoning — never sprayed — they’re packed with iron, zinc, and protein, each handful shrapnel-free satisfaction, no tooth brush needed.
Bourbon Bacon Caramel Corn // Liddabit Sweets // Brooklyn, NY
In baseball, tradition rules, and most are sacred — the pinstripes, the anthem, the seventh-inning stretch. And yet how cracker jacks became the timeless stadium candy they are today, we’ll never know — is it their stale, molar-sticking bite or the useless “toy” stuffed in every box? Let’s upgrade. Started at the Brooklyn Flea by two culinary school buddies, Liddabit is now anything but little: a confectionary powerhouse of candies, caramels, even a cookbook. Who better to breathe new life into that tired snack? Their version covers all the bases: salty, sweet, boozy, bacon-y, it’s barbecue in a box, no toy needed.