Logo for the DFR Audible post categoryOur nation’s ballparks are nothing if not breeding grounds for innovation. Every baseball season brings reports of some outrageous new item available at the concession stands–a battered and deep-fried stick of butter shoved inside a doughnut that’s sandwiched between two waffles, or some such ridiculous thing. (Oh, wait, I left out the bacon. There’s bound to be bacon these days.)

So of course it’s heartening to see the teams trying something with an old standby, like the good, old-fashioned corn dog.

Kid with Foot-long Corn Dog
A kid enjoys his foot-long corn dog at an A’s game–unless he gets careless with that pointy stick.

Lately, the local ballpark has seen the advent of new foot-long corn dogs; perhaps these impressive snacks have made an appearance at your nearby ballpark as well. For a cool $9, you can enjoy more corn dog than you ever dreamed possible in one sitting. And, unlike many of the park’s specialty foods, where you have to get up and go get it at a stand, there are vendors walking around selling these deep-fried redwood trees right at your seat.

That was my undoing. After seeing those vendors waving those stupendous corn dogs around for a couple of games, I just had to have one.

I had “the buyer’s remorse.”

Let’s get one thing straight–it’s a corn dog. How bad can it really be? Even the worst corn dog is going to be better than a plate of chicken livers or arugula. So I’m not really complaining about the flavor or any such thing.

No, the problem with these foot-long corn dogs is more logistical. What all that golden, crisp, deep-fried batter hides is the fact that, structurally, your foot-long corn dog is an impossibility without a really long stick. At the ballpark, each lengthy hot dog is skewered on a very long, pointy stick before it is battered and deep-fried.

That long, pointy stick gives your treat structure, but it also makes the thing a pain in the ass to eat. Once you’ve munched the first inch off the far end of the dog, you very quickly get into pointed stick territory. Indeed, after a few bites, there’s more stick than dog, corned or otherwise, and eating the rest of your snack becomes a problem.

You can try pushing the hot dog and its coating up the stick, but the dog tends to get a good grip on the wood in the skewering process, leaving it unwilling to move much without major force applied. That, of course, means you run the risk of destroying the corn batter coating, which has substantially less structural integrity than the wooden spear.

If you don’t want your coating crumbling to pieces and falling away to the dirty pavement below your feet, your only other options are sticking the stick–pointy end first, mind you–straight down your gullet to get at the rest of your dog (a move suitable only for practiced sword-swallowers), or else nibbling at the lower portions of your snack from the side, like a hamster gnawing away at an old corn cob. However you go at it, consuming the entire length of your foot-long corn dog can be a frustrating and possibly even dangerous experience. Talk about an eating disorder!

Of course, this doesn’t even get into the question: Why are they handing out relatively sharp wooden stakes at ballparks where everyone who enters needs to go through a metal detector, because they’re so paranoid about the possibility of someone coming into the stadium with a weapon? Why bring a weapon to the game–they’re selling them at the concession stands, hidden within a deep-fried batter sleeve! I suppose if a horde of vampires decides to descend upon the ballpark in the middle of a night game, then the folks in the stands can defend themselves. But it may only be a matter of time before someone tries jabbing one of their all too human neighbors with those pointed sticks.

Leaving aside questions about potential mayhem, the sad fact is, as appealing as the idea of a foot-long corn dog may be, you’re better off saving a few bucks and just getting the standard sized treat.

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