Sorry Hotdogs, But Nachos Are The Perfect Baseball Game Snack

Nachos near hot dog
Nachos near hot dog - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

Call me Queen of the Obvious, but in my entirely unoriginal opinion, there's no better way to experience a ballgame than live and in-person. I long ago lost track of how many I've been to over the years and all over the U.S, as well (I've moved around a lot). I haven't just attended countless major league games, but also numerous minor league, wooden bat, and even little league games, although I haven't been to any of these last ones since my son played third base and I was the nice bench coach who handed out snacks.

Speaking of snacks, these are an important part of the whole ballgame experience for spectators, too. While peanuts and Cracker Jack (or Jill, as it's known in these more gender-inclusive times) have been enshrined as canon due to their shout-out in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," hot dogs are practically synonymous with stadium foods. Does that mean they're the undisputed king of ballpark foods? If you caught the title, you'll already know I think differently. Sure, I enjoy a hot dog at a baseball game just as much as millions of other people do, but I posit that there is a superior snack that can be found at just about any concessions stand worthy of the name: nachos. When it comes to price, they're generally in the same ballpark (so to speak), but I feel that I get a lot more bang for my buck.

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Nachos Just Last Longer

Nachos with guacamole and jalapeños
Nachos with guacamole and jalapeños - Grandriver/Getty Images

Sure, I enjoy exploring as many of the exciting new concessions I can at each stadium I visit, but much of this is dictated by my budget, which is tiny (I'm a habitué of the nosebleed seats) so I can generally afford just a single snack per game. This means that one thing I look for is something that's going to last a good long while, and hot dogs just don't make the cut.

A plain and simple hot dog, the kind generally sold at the lower-priced concessions stands, will last maybe four bites, max. Add some toppings to that dog and you might get an extra bite or two while doubling the price, but still, it's not going to last through any given at-bat. Something like peanuts or popcorn will take a lot longer to eat, it's true, but neither of these is all that satisfying as a stand-alone snack. Nachos, however, hit that sweet spot right between the two where they're satisfying enough to feel like a meal but can be eaten slowly enough to last for maybe an inning or two.

Nachos Offer More Textural Contrast

Ballpark nachos in foil
Ballpark nachos in foil - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Yet another reason hotdogs are, well, good but not great is that at their core, what you have is a squishy meat stick on a squishy bun. Squeeze on some semi-liquid condiments or maybe a ladle of soupy chili, and you have something that doesn't really give your teeth much of a workout. Okay, maybe I'll come to appreciate this quality if I ever go to a baseball game right after having a dental appointment, but for the most part, I prefer a little more textural contrast in my food.

Nachos are nothing but a study in contrasts since they start with a base of crunchy chips. Me, I'm a big fan of crunch -- in fact, I'm actually not all that into street tacos as I find soft tortillas too floppy. For this same reason, I generally don't care too much for fratchos, totchos, and their ilk, although the famous bratchos of American Family Field (my hometown stadium since the 20-teens) get a pass since these are built on a base of crunchy kettle chips. Still, the best nachos all start with sturdy tortilla chips which contrast nicely with the gooey cheese topping as well as any other stuff you pile on there (extra jalapeños for me, please).

Nachos Hold More Toppings

Nachos with pulled meat
Nachos with pulled meat - Milwaukee Brewers / Facebook

Speaking of toppings, that's another advantage that nachos have over hot dogs. The classic nachos that have been a ballpark staple since the '70s consist of little more than chips with a ladleful of cheese sauce. Ballparks these days offer a wide range of nacho toppings including Skyline chili, a fan favorite at the Cincinnati Reds' Great American Ballpark, chicken tinga and barbacoa at Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field, and elote at Comerica Park where the Detroit Tigers play. Here in Milwaukee, American Family Field has pretty tasty smoked meat nachos, although I'd like them better without barbecue sauce since I don't care for sweet condiments. I can still get my favorite nachos, though, topped with chorizo, cheddar, sour cream, and yes, extra jalapeños.

Sure, hot dogs, too, come with a wide variety of unique (some would say silly) toppings. The already alliterative Pittsburgh Pirates PNC Park features one piled with pot roast, pickles, and potato pierogies while AmFam Field pairs hotdogs with chicken fingers, American cheese, tater tots, and ranch dressing. (That's a nope for me.) The thing is, though, that even with a foot-long dog, you've still only got maybe 12 square inches to pile on the toppings, and you can't go too high or they'll fall out of the bun. With nachos, each chip has a few inches of surface space, plus the chips can be layered. More toppings means more variety and better value, so nachos get the nod here as well.

Nachos May Come With A Side Of Merch

Reds batting helmet nachos
Reds batting helmet nachos - Cincinnati Reds / Facebook

Saving the best reason for last, the real reason nachos are the best food in the ballpark is that in most big league stadiums and quite a few minor league ones, it's possible to get them in a souvenir batting helmet. Most other concessions, while they may be equally pricey, don't come in anything more exciting than a cardboard box or flimsy plastic tray.

From time to time, certain specialty items may come with a take-home, with perhaps the most notorious being the $25,000 World Champions Burger sold at 2022 Atlanta Braves games. The first $151 was for wagyu beef, lobster tail, and foie gras, but for an extra $24,849 you also got a replica World Series ring. That's a bit rich for my blood, but my son and I used to scour the stands at Orioles and Nationals games back in the glory days of souvenir soda cups. While these may still be available at some venues, the most recent one in our collection dates from 2017 and was from a WWE event, not a ballgame.

In recent years, I'm left with just two choices if I want a food-souvenir twofer: soft serve ice cream, which often comes in mini helmets, or nachos, which are available in one large enough for my husky to wear as a hat (for about two seconds). When it comes to batting helmets, bigger is better, so it's nachos once more for the win.

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