Monday, April 13, 2020

Hot Dogs, Baseball and Me

I’m not sure when I had my first hot dog. I’m sure I was pretty young, most likely at some family gathering, fresh off a smoky charcoal grill.

However, the first memory I have of hot dogs are deeply connected to another truly American icon.

I remember going to my first big-league baseball game with my Cub Scout troop. I will never forget walking into the outfield bleacher section at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The noise, the crowds and especially the smells.

Dodgers Spring Training Vero Beach Fla, 2008

The scent of buttery popcorn goodness, the sweet sugar perfume of cotton candy mixed with the savory, smokey bouquet of perfectly grilled Dodger Dogs almost overloaded the senses of my pre-teen self.

I do remember a little about the game. My favorite Dodger, Steve “Mr. Clean” Garvey was only in his 2nd year with the big club. I remember the promotional give away was three 8x10 “signed” photos of Dodger players (and the adult that bitched that Don Drysdale didn’t even play anymore so the pics were junk).

But mostly I remember eating my way into a near food coma. We had sodas, peanuts, popcorn, candy and most importantly Dodger Dogs for dinner.

Like any typical kid, I had mine with some tomato ketchup and a bit of sweet pickle relish. It was a 9-year-olds culinary heaven. To me, that dog lived up to legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully’s promise of the Farmer John’s sausage being “Eastern most in quality, Western most in Flavor.”

The view from the good seats, Dodger Stadium Club, May 2003

But the hot dog universe didn’t begin with a “Big Bang” in the confines of Chavez Ravine.

It didn’t start on the Boardwalks of Coney Island. In fact, no one really knows the factual origins of our favorite frank, but one thing that is certain, the modern dog can trace its pedigree back to ancient times.

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