We have arrived at yet another rite of spring. Truck Day has come and gone, pitchers and catchers have reported, and the southern part of our nation is full of the sounds of mitts popping and views of grown men gathered in uniform lines on lush green grass taking part in calisthenic activities that, done in most other environments, would make them look ridiculous. It is only right that we now take the opportunity to delve into what has become an annual tradition here at Bless You Boys: rating the weird stuff the West Michigan Whitecaps are purporting to be food in the 2020 edition of their Fan Food Vote.
This year’s contest is a special one. While I have only had the privilege of covering this spectacle for a few years, the fan concession vote is in its 10th year. To celebrate that occasion, the Whitecaps have rounded up all the previous winners and put them in a Royal Rumble of sorts to see who comes out on top. This is a contest where, much like our cholesterol levels, we will surely see the best of the best rise to the occasion.
Again, as a reminder, I am no expert. I know how an oven works, I can prepare meals that my friends and family politely tolerate, and I’ve seen at least part of the first five episodes of the Great British Bake Off, so accept my bonafides for what they are: irrelevant.
Rocky Balburrito (2019)
Behold the Rocky Balburrito, a stadium food worth running up many steps for https://t.co/Xsn0dzJdUs (via @thetakeout) pic.twitter.com/zcPEJ40cbE— The A.V. Club (@TheAVClub) March 29, 2019
What I would call (or did call) it: Cheese Mis-Steak (referring to my previous naming in our 2019 coverage)
This is a pretty standard cheesesteak burrito, and aside from exhibiting a slight identity crisis, it is mostly unremarkable. This thing beat out a bacon-wrapped twinkie, a donut sundae, and something they called Tequickles. I don’t know if the rest of the competition was that bad or if the cheesesteak of the midwest was that great.
Mt. Wing Suvius (2018)
'Mt. Wing-suvius' wins West Michigan Whitecaps Fan Food Vote https://t.co/0GD82JRXQT pic.twitter.com/2spsepBnvV— 13 On Your Sidelines (@13OYSL) March 29, 2018
What I would call (or did call) it: F**k your heart (again, referring to my inaugural 2018 rankings)
This was a runaway winner of the 2018 contest, and why wouldn’t it be? Much like a night club described by Bill Hader on Saturday Night Live, this entry has everything: mac ‘n cheese, beer cheese, buffalo chicken filling, and onion rings. This thing is like a Super Bowl party in a blender. Granted, the competition of a falafel sandwich, some sort of weird kool-aid pickle on a stick, and some abomination named Johnny Brunch wasn’t putting up much of a fight, but I don’t think it would have mattered. Much like its namesake, it is a constant threat of danger to anyone in its vicinity. Instead of ash and pumice, this volcano is a threat to bury your cardiovascular system in an inescapable explosion of fat and carbs.
Beer Cheese Poutine (2017)
New at @wmwhitecaps games: Beer Cheese Poutine with BBQ pulled pork pic.twitter.com/fG0bFMQ45n— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 30, 2017
What I call it: A lie
The 2017 entry that had an easy road to victory over the atrocities that were deep fried bubble gum and something that was unfortunate enough to be named Alan Spammell might taste alright, but it suffers from a fraudulent foundation. If it were the eighth inning of a 2014 Tigers game and you saw me sprint from the bullpen to the mound, induce a pop-up, point my finger to the sky and slam my glove into the infield grass, you wouldn’t entertain the idea that I was Phil Coke for even a hot second. As I would lack the gorgeous locks and the ability to throw a ball at a speed higher than 60 miles per hour that would necessitate me being Phil Coke, the Beer Cheese Poutine lacks essential elements that would allow it to qualify as poutine. What they attempt to call poutine is nothing more than cheese fries with two types of dead pig. It might taste fine, but poutine it is not.
Dutch Love (2016)
'Dutch Love' wins West Michigan Whitecaps Fan Food Vote (Photo: @wmwhitecaps) https://t.co/JNaSEOU0Il pic.twitter.com/8rkI9j4Gcr— 13 On Your Side (@wzzm13) March 31, 2016
What I would all it: Closer to Poutine than the previous entry
This dish earned a name that conjures the mental picture of two people having sex in clogs on a windmill, which like the food, may have sounded like a good idea in theory but is an unfortunate undertaking in practice. I’m not sure what cheese curds and gravy did to deserve the starch party that is pita and fries, but much like clandestine intercourse in wooden footwear, I don’t see this going down without the assistance of a lot of beer.
What I would call it: Tot Wings
In what was the most mathematically thorough accounting of the history of this contest, Hot-To-Tot took out a squeaker with 17 percent of the vote, just beating French Fry Pizza Pie at 16 percent, Cheesy Does It at 14 percent and The Legend of Pickle Hollowed at 12 percent, which is a dish that should have won on name alone. Hot-To-Tot is a straightforward, comforting entry: buffalo chicken and blue cheese over tater tots. I would eat this by the shovel full.
Augger Dogger (2014)
What I would call it: Uninspired
This appears to be a hot-dog that’s been under a heat lamp for about 36 hours wrapped in something that we are being led to believe is potatoes. When the picture does a dish such little justice it is hard to muster the effort to imagine it tastes great. There is not enough ketchup, or mustard, or [pick your condiment] that could be dumped upon this sad experience to make it viable. This thing beat out something called the Pop Tart BLT, and that’s just about the most American sounding food offering I can think of. It pains me that I never had the opportunity to experience it.
What I would call it: Difficult to pronounce correctly
Is this a Bah-co, or a Bay-co. I’ll never know, but it took home a staggering victory over a corn dog covered in duck bacon (too cute) and and tiny hotdogs served in a mini-helmet. The Baco is the fever dream of carbohydrate hating Atkins diet founder Ronald Coleman Atkins. It’s a taco with a shell of bacon, and if could inject it directly into my veins I would do so.
West Side Po’ Boy (2012)
What I would call it: A Kielbasa sandwich
That’s what this is. It’s a Kielbasa sandwich. I’d love to say more, but it is what it is. I’m not sure it’s a po’boy, but it’s a sandwich. When the other options included a gluten free hot dog, it’s not hard to see how this guy came out on top.
Chicks With Sticks (2011)
What I would call it: A kick in the pants
Aside from what I can only see as a problematic name, I have to wonder what this thing actually beat out. Was it a stiff competition between a bowl of plain greek yogurt, steamed white rice, and cold porridge? This is veggies and hummus, and it took home the top prize. Being something few people come to the park for and decidedly disappointing when you actually lay eyes on it, I can’t help but see it as the culinary equivalent of the bunt. This is an option that would be most useful if fired into the sun, although when I see it beat the likes of dishes like “lollipop bologna,” “duck frog hot dog,” and “The meat salad,” there is an argument that it may have been the only sane option.
Declaration of Indigestion (2010)
What I would call it: The best name by far
This is a tube of meat smothered in other types of meat and covered in cheese peppers and onions all on a sub roll, and it sounds nothing short of rapturous. I would eat this if I found it in a dumpster, and make no mistake, that’s high praise.
So, there are your options. The folks at West Michigan work to provide a great park experience for the fans, both on and off the field. If you have the opportunity to vote, you may do so here, and if you have any chance to get out and sample the winner while watching one of the best teams in the Midwest League, I would encourage you to do so.