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Concessions in a time of concessions

The Altoona Curve’s signature concession item isn’t a hyper-specific regional delicacy, nor is it an over-the-top gut buster. It’s the Curve Burger, simple yet satisfying, a juicy cheeseburger served fresh off the grill and accompanied by a bag of Martin’s potato chips.

The Altoona Curve’s signature concession item isn’t a hyper-specific regional delicacy, nor is it an over-the-top gut buster. It’s the Curve Burger, simple yet satisfying, a juicy cheeseburger served fresh off the grill and accompanied by a bag of Martin’s potato chips.

In Altoona, to miss the Curve Burger is to miss baseball itself. On Tuesday, the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate briefly alleviated those feelings of longing by offering Curve Burgers for curbside pickup. The burgers had been placed on sale four days prior, via an online preorder, and sold out in less than four hours.  

Altoona’s one-day ballpark burger sale was one of the examples of a burgeoning quarantine-era Minor League Baseball trend: ballpark food to-go. As with nearly everything related to the Minors, the specifics of these endeavors vary considerably from team to team. What follows is a representative but by no means comprehensive look at the myriad ways Minor League fans have been able to get their ballpark food fix.
Pensacola Blue Wahoos
The Blue Wahoos were perhaps the first team to offer curbside concessions. As of earlier this week, the Twins’ Double-A affiliate became perhaps the first team to offer socially distanced in-ballpark dining. Over the past month, executive chef Travis Wilson and his culinary squad have consistently offered an array of ballpark staples, rotating specials and family meal packs. A recent menu included Bacon-Crusted Shrimp Tacos, a Southern Fried BLT and the standby that is the Heater Burger. 

The Blue Wahoos’ culinary creativity has been on display from the get-go. To wit: On April 20 (4/20), they offered an array of specials influenced by the team’s previously announced “Legalize Marinara” promotion. 

Charleston RiverDogs
On Mondays, RiverDogs vice president of food and beverage Josh Shea and his staff prepare meals for local COVID-19 frontline responders. Tuesdays through Fridays, they provide ballpark-style meals available for pickup and delivery (via the DoorDash app). RiverDogs concessions have long been creative, dating back to — and before — the halcyon days of the Pickle Dog, so it’s no surprise that the Yankees’ Class A affiliate offers a wide variety of unorthodox items. These currently include the Alehouse Brat, the Southern Kenchi Dog, the mammoth Homewrecker hot dog and the wholly unique creation that is the Brisket Ramen Bowl. 

As for drinks, the RiverDogs are selling a “Mystery Six Pack” for $12.99. It’s the quarantine-era equivalent of this: 

Rochester Red Wings
Today (May 7) and tomorrow, the Red Wings are offering Curbside Concessions. Those with even a passing knowledge of Rochester’s food scene will not be surprised to see the first entree on the menu: Home Plate. This, of course, is the Red Wings’ version of the Garbage Plate, the customizable, meat and carb-heavy heap of late-night heartiness first served [and now trademarked] by Nick Tahou Hots restaurant. 

The Red Wings’ Home Plate offers a choice of meat (hamburger, cheeseburger, white hots or red hots) as well as macaroni salad and home fries. Add-ons include hot sauce, onions, chili, ketchup, mustard and relish. Maybe the Red Wings — Triple-A affiliate of the Twins — should send some to the Gaffigan family. 

Omaha Storm Chasers
The Storm Chasers “Chasers Curbside To-Go” is a weekly endeavor, as each Friday the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate offers a different ballpark food-themed package. Thursday is Nacho Night, featuring two pounds each of chips and cheese. The Storm Chasers throw in a pack of baseball cards and mystery merch with each order, along with the chance to win prizes such as gift cards, magnet sets and lawn chairs. You never know what you’re gonna get when you show up to the ballpark. 

And finally, a bit of breaking news: The Beloit Snappers have expanded their ballpark drive-thru menu. In addition to the Hot Dog Basket, Burger Basket and Brat Basket, the Twins’ Class A affiliate is now offering french fries and, more importantly, cheese curds. Please enjoy responsibly.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben’s Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.

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