From Cracker Jacks at a ballpark to a Pimm’s cocktail at a tennis tournament, these iconic concessions have become staples to their respective sports.
As Wimbledon approaches, the tradition of their signature dish – strawberries and cream – also continues. Ever wonder where these game-day gourmets came from?
Here is your official guide for the must-have foods at major sporting events:
Wimbledon – Strawberries & Cream
The classic white outfits are not the only thing the Grand Slam has become most famous for. For as long as the tournament has been around, Wimbledon has also become illustrious for fresh strawberries with sweet clotted cream, often paired with a cold glass of Pimm’s.
For those who have not had the chance to explore across the pond, Pimm’s is a gin-based cocktail served on ice with lemonade, mint leaves, chopped strawberries, sliced orange, and chopped cucumber.
Fitting with the theme of the tournament, the history behind the strawberries and cream delicacy goes back to the Victorian era and was developed based on two things. One, strawberries are ironically in-season the same time of the tournament, and two, it is known as a fashionable snack for the royals to munch on during the matches
To ensure the most optimal juiciness, the strawberries are picked the day before they are served. Sometimes they are even harvested the same day at 4am. According to Wimbledon, on average 10,000 litres of cream and 28,000kg of strawberries are consumed at the tournament each year.
Despite the popularity and Wimbledon’s prestigious reputation, the cost of this concession is only £2.50 thanks to a subsidization by the tournament. So walk over to the concession stand by court one and grab yourself a Pimm’s and strawberries and cream and enjoy the match!
Super Bowl – Buffalo Chicken Wings
The Super Bowl party is undoubtedly one of the few days where you do not feel guilty for consuming all the cheesy, greasy foods you can think of. Whether you are a passionate or a casual football fan, we have all participated in our fair share of Super Bowl potlucks or tailgates.
Besides a nice cold beer, there are always some signature appetizers you can bet will make an appearance as a pre-game snack. One of those popular dishes would be chicken wings smothered with buffalo sauce, accompanied with a side ranch or blue cheese.
The tradition is said to have started on the first Super Bowl in 1967 when the Green Bay Packers faced the Kansas City Chiefs, although the pairing of the buffalo sauce and the wings started a few years prior in 1964 at a bar in Buffalo, N.Y. Different cuts from a chicken were a new concept at the time, which made chicken wings a particularity cheap purchase in grocery stores.
The Anchor bar then decided to add some spice to the wings to satisfy a hungry crowd and created a winning combination for football fans. Since then the rest has been history!
NASCAR – Chilli Dogs
On the big screen, Martinsville Speedway may be known for their paperclip-shaped racetrack but if you have ever attended live, you know they are by far most famous for their tasty concession food item.
Similar to most race tracks, Martinsville is known for their Jesse Jones hot dogs. Although is not just an ordinary NASCAR racetrack hot dog. The “fully-loaded option” has been a long standing tradition that dates back to 1947.
Dressed on top of this southern style red hot dog is mustard, chilli, coleslaw and chopped onions for perfection. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has admitted that he eats about three or four of these delicious dogs a day when NASCAR is in town. Even though vistors may spend a lot to see the action, this racetrack treat is only $2! Making a pit stop to the concession stand definitely worth the wait!
The Masters – Pimento Cheese Sandwich
The green jacket isn’t the only fundamental element at the annual tournament at Augusta National. Built on tradition, this $1.50 pimento cheese sandwich has evolved from a quick fix for hungry patrons to a must-have for attendees. This simple, yet so delicious sandwich is a blend of multiple types of cheese, mayonnaise and pimentos in between two pieces of fresh white bread and a secret ingredient known as “PimentoGate”.
If you want to go all in, make the sandwich a combo with chips and sweet tea for an extra $1.50. This lunchtime treat is unique to the grounds of Augusta and is the second best thing to bear the colour green at the tournament. So grab yourself a pimento cheese sandwich, chips and a sweet tea and set up camp on Amen Corner and enjoy the tournament.
Baseball – Peanuts & Cracker Jacks
“Take me out to the ball game; take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…”
You just sang it in your head, didn’t you? We see it in the concession stands before we enter the stadium, we hear the deep voices of vendors yelling “PEEAAANUUUUTTS”, and we sing about it during the seventh inning stretch. But… where did the tradition of this iconic ball park snack come from?
For those who may not know, Cracker Jack is an American brand of snack which combines flavoured, caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts. Often hidden inside is a special prize for the indulger.
Trying to add a fun spin on regular popcorn in 1893 brothers, Louis and Frederick Rueckheim discovered a new treat that was a convenient, cheap, and delicious snack to eat at baseball games. Fast forward to 1908, the song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” was introduced which further drove the popularity of this baseball tradition.
Fresh roasted peanuts have also become a popular hallmark to a fresh summer ballgame. Some say the cracking of a peanut shell is used to help relieve nerves during an intense game; others say if you find a peanut with only one nut instead of two, it can bring good luck for your team on the field. Either way a tasty snack with a cold beer during a hot summer day.
Kentucky Derby – Mint Julep
Fancy hats and risky bets have become integral parts of the Kentucky Derby. But another aspect people may not know of is the classic bourbon cocktail, the mint julep.
The mint julep has been associated with the Kentucky Derby for as long as we can remember. Each year, about 120,000 juleps are served during the two-day event. Mixed with Kentucky bourbon from a distillery called Woodford Reserve, this drink costs as much as $1000. In previous years Woodford Reserve even offered 15 gold-plated “Commonwealth cups ” for $2,500.
For people who may have cringed at the price of a mint julep there are also $11 mint juleps available at Churchill Downs over Derby weekend. Dating back to the prohibition era, the mint julep became the official drink in 1930s, after Churchill Downs began serving it in souvenir julep cup.
The special concoction is:
- 2 oz. Woodford Reserve straight bourbon
- 1 tsp Kentucky sorghum simple syrup (a natural sweetener)
- 2 leaves of Kentucky colonel mint
- Garnish: 3 red roses, a sprig of mint and a single rose petal from the Garland of Rose
- Served over crushed ice
You also must always drink your mint julep through a straw to get the perfect balance of mint and sweetness. So call your bets, grab a julep and go!