Even as someone who isn't a die-hard baseball fan, I'd be lying if I said Opening Day wasn't exciting. It provides a renewed sense of optimism for baseball fans pegging their team to win the World Series (or at least make a deep playoff run), and it further signals that warmer weather is near.

I've easily gone to over 100 baseball games in my entire life, and there's one thing I always look forward to: a good hot dog.

Sometimes I like them plain. Sometimes I like them without a bun. Sometimes I want them "dragged through the garden," as the Chicago terminology goes. Being from Chicago, you'd be remiss if you didn't get at least one Chicago-style hot dog at a baseball game.

Photo Credit: bhofack2, Getty Images
Photo Credit: bhofack2, Getty Images

You know the ingredients: a hot dog topped with mustard, chopped onions, bright green (sweet) relish, tomato slices, a dill pickle spear, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt on a poppy seed bun. All put together, it's a mountain of ingredients so dense you can barely see the hot dog by the end of it! There's a reason for that "dragged through the garden" term.

After listing all of that, I can practically smell the hot dogs grilling at a ballpark. I'm clearly not the only one with such a craving.

According to research, Major League Baseball fans typically eat around 20 million hot dogs per season. The Los Angeles Dodgers claim the most popular ballpark hot dog with the "Dodger Dog," a ten-inch pork dog in a steamed bun. From 2015 to 2019, the Dodgers sold over 2.5 million dogs, blowing all the competition out of the water. The Cubs placed third behind the New York Yankees at over one million hot dogs sold.

In my sudden quest for more hot dog data, I also stumbled upon this interesting factoid regarding the correlation of hot dog sales and team wins.

According to the Associated Press, the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals all had more than one million hot dog and sausages sold per year. They're also five of the seven teams with the most wins over the five-year period of data.

On top of being big cities, people like to come out and support a winner. More people means more concession sales, which means more hot dogs. At least that's my analysis.

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski

While I'm waxing poetic about hot dogs, let me also sing the praises of one of the most underrated condiments on the planet: sport peppers. They're tiny, pickled peppers that pack a medium-heat. The brine in which they sit has a vinegary kick to it as well, which affords each pepper a tangy zest to compliment the heat.

Over the last couple years, they've become my addiction. I can down a jar in just a couple days. Sometimes, I just take three or four and eat them; no food necessary. Beyond hot dogs, they're excellent on pizza as well!

So with Opening Day finally upon us, here's to another great baseball season. Hopefully some delicious ballpark hot dogs are in your future. And don't forget to tune into our sister station, AM 1490 WDBQ, where you can catch Cubs games!

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