Last spring, when the West Michigan Whitecaps presented the internet with the opportunity to select one menu item to be included in their concessions during the 2018 season, I was given the opportunity to review the offerings. While I like to think it was because of my depth of knowledge and experience in all things culinary — I know what sous-vide is, what Guy Fieri’s trademark sayings are, and I’ve eaten at some of the finest Taco Bells across this great land — the fact of the matter is that our fearless leader asked if anyone felt like writing something about the subject and I was the guy who said yes [Ed.: It was definitely John’s depth of Guy Fieri knowledge].
Little did I know that I would have the opportunity to return for a second review of what the Whitecaps are telling us is food — yes, the contest is back in 2019.
As was the case last year, I will point out that I have not eaten any of these dishes, nor do I intend to. My review here is based entirely on photographic depictions and the written descriptions — ones that combine words the English language never intended to couple. If you would like to make your voice heard you can examine the candidates and cast your vote here.
The Cow-A-Bunga Burger
What I would call it: A Gross Misuse of Ingredients
The first entry in the contest is described as a follows.
“Popular Hawaiian cuisine includes SPAM (yes SPAM!), pineapple (duh) and bacon (we assume, because duh, it’s bacon). That’s why we took three of those ingredients and used them as a cheeseburger toppings. Aloha indeed.”
Aloha is a great word to use here. A popular Hawaiian greeting, aloha also means “goodbye,” which is what one would be saying to their kidney function after dining on a sandwich that I can only assume is saltier than Brian McCann after he witnesses someone breaking an unwritten rule of baseball. Spam, pineapple, and bacon. If this were a pizza, I would give it a hard Maybe. I can’t endorse this being done to a cheeseburger.
Deep Fried Jellybeans
What I would call it: How to Make a Bad Thing Worse
Sweet baby Jesus, take me now. These are pretty straightforward, but here’s your description.
“You certainly won’t find this delectable snack during your Halloween trick-or-treating. Even people who avoid black jellybeans will be delighted. (Hot take: black jellybeans are delightful.)”
It’s a good thing they included their parenthetical hot take, because that’s what this whole thing is: a culinary hot take. Hot takes, like this entry, are rarely good, and always poorly thought out. Have you ever eaten a jelly bean and thought to yourself, “You know what this needs? Batter and hot oil!” Me neither.
What I would call it: Fried Pickles
“Tequickles” is just vague enough to give you an idea of what you could be eating, while still sounding like the name one of my drunk college roommates gave to a street cat he found on the way home from a night out in Cancun on spring break. Here’s how they describe this one (the food, not the cat):
“Te-kee-ckles? Te-quick-les? Look, pronounce it however you like, but these fried pickles are breaded, then deep fried and served with a tequila mango sauce, so they are sure to start a party with your tastebuds. Worms not included.”
First of all, “Worms not included?” Sometimes less is more. This is one of those times. This is a deep fried pickle with a clever name and a dipping sauce that is bound to be disappointing if it forces you to taste tequila without benefiting from the alcoholic effects. Take away the sauce and it’s still a deep fried pickle. This is something I have enjoyed and would continue to do so.
Marge’s Donut Sundae
What I would call it: Marge’s Donut Sundae
This particular dish is named for Marge’s Donut Den in Wyoming Michigan, which has to be the most on brand Midwestern name for an ice cream parlor I’ve seen in my time on this Earth. Here’s what you will be ingesting if fate guides you to the ballpark and then decided that donuts and ice cream were a necessity.
“Forget a mask and pads, you’ll just need a napkin after you catch this donut shaped like a catcher’s mitt. This oversized donut is topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel and chocolate syrups, M&Ms, sprinkles and whipped cream and comes in at just under 3,000 calories. There’s a reason Marge’s Donut Den is a West Michigan Institution.”
I wouldn’t be so quick to eschew the need for a mask. Specifically, the one that the paramedics would affix to your face to deliver oxygen to your system after the 3,000 calories in this dish finally put up the road closed sign on the last functional artery away from your heart seems like it might be something you will want to have available. But it would certainly be a delicious way to send yourself to the nearest trauma center.
What I would call it: Pedestrian
This is like a family cookout wrapped in a tortilla, which seems appropriate for a ballpark food. It’s actually a pretty normal offering, especially when stacked up against the rest of the field.
What I would call it: Punish Your Taste Buds
It’s a hot dog that has seen some things.
“Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, heaped on a hot dog for a hearty snack. Smother it with peanut butter and no-bean chili, topped with pickles for fun. You may want 1,2,3 more of these before it’s all said and done.”
What aren’t they putting on this dog? This thing looks like someone made a recipe out of the leftover food they found in their kid’s car seat after a cross country road trip.
What I would call it: Cheese Mis-Steak
Entry number two in the burrito themed division is here.
“Ever wonder how Rocky made it up those stairs so quickly? It’s because of the wonderful and nutritious food in Philadelphia. The most famous of which is the cheesesteak, which we’ve rolled into a burrito with liberal doses of cheese, onions and green peppers and then deep fried. After one of these you’ll feel like a champ.”
I moved to Philadelphia in 2009, and have sampled the finest cheesesteaks the city has to offer. One thing I know is that the further you move away from downtown Philadelphia, the more lackluster a cheesesteak becomes. It’s science. The fact that this is being offered as a burrito does not go a long way to instill confidence. I’m sure it’s fine, but it has a Hot Pocket-y feel to it. While I’m told I will feel like a champ when I’m finished, this puts out more of a brother-in-law Paulie vibe.
What I would call it: The Fuzzy Confetti Log
The third and final entry in the burrito themed division.
“You won’t need to surf Nazaré, Portugal to catch this huge wave. This healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream coated in Fruity Pebbles and rolled burrito-style in blue cotton candy will make you want to wave goodbye to your diet.”
I’m impressed that they managed to work the word healthy into any of these descriptions, and in a context that is correct. Anything rolled in blue cotton candy is a no for me, personally. Putting that aside, your diet isn’t the only thing you are waving goodbye to when you sink your teeth into this. I’ll let you compile your own lists.
Twinkie the Pig
What I would call it: Glorious
Clever name for this one, and I admire the simplicity.
“Urban legend has it that a Twinkie’s shelf life is infinite. But if they were wrapped in bacon and fried - as we like to do - then there’s no way they would last that long. Not. A. Chance.”
This strikes me as the kind of thing I would have put together out of what was laying around my apartment in college. Despite my misgivings about everything else on the list, I’m here for this bacon-wrapped Twinkie. This one sits solidly in my wheelhouse.
What I would call it: If Care Bears Were Food
This is one dish that I’m pretty sure is going to look almost the same coming back up 40 minutes after you eat it as it did when you made the decision to O.D. on sugar and food coloring.
Despite my opinions of the contenders on this years ballot, I must say that concessions make ballgames interesting. West Michigan has once again raised the bar on the types of crazy concoctions you may have the opportunity to dump down your throat, and if you can’t eat stuff like this at a baseball game, I don’t know where else you’re going to do it. Whichever one of these wins out, go ahead when you’re out at the park and treat yo’ self. You deserve it.