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Stadium chefs hope new food combos will hit home with fans. Brontosaurus Rib, anyone?

Aramark executive chef James Mehne shows off some of Kauffman Stadium's new food items, including truffled mac and cheese, lemon garlic rotisserie chicken and roasted Brussels sprouts. Peggy Lowe/KCUR

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If there was a world series for crazy ballpark food, the Kansas City Royals would be winning.

Kansas City takes two slots on USA Today’s ranking of “10 craziest ballpark foods for the 2017 MLB season”  – more than any other team.

No. 6 is the Royals’ Sunrise Dog, a hot dog loaded with bacon, cheese, white sausage gravy and topped with a fried egg. No. 2 is the pulled pork patty melt, with fried onions, cole slaw, a jalapeno pepper skewer and a funnel cake bun.

What was Aramark executive chef James Mehne thinking?

“It’s fun. It’s whimsical. It takes a little bit of all different parts of our ballpark here and puts it into one,” he said. “We try to do some fun, crazy, exciting new items every year.”

As Major League Baseball season gets underway, teams around the country are offering a lot more than just hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks to get fans to care if they ever come back. This season’s new ballpark foods are concoctions that are built not for sales but to get people into the seats.

Employees at the Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium work at the liquid nitrogen ice cream machine, which makes made-to-order flavors in 30 seconds. 

Sales figures for these kinds of outrageous offerings are a closely guarded secret, said Kevin Reichard, publisher of Baseball Digest, and concessionaires make a lot more money selling hot dogs. But the crazy food can also generate lots of public relations attention for the teams, Reichard said. 

“[The crazy foods] are more for marketing purposes, perhaps, than actual revenue generation,” Reichard said. “But they do get the team in the headlines at the beginning of the year in a way that’s not totally related to baseball on the field. It reaches a different sort of casual baseball attendee.”   

Reichard’s favorite this year is the Brontosaurus Rib at Yankee Stadium, which he said is “basically monster-sized short ribs, something Fred Flintstone would have ordered in Bedrock.” The Seattle Mariners have also received a lot of attention for offering toasted grasshoppers tossed in chili lime salt.

Sean Baska, a loyal Royals fan found tailgating with his friends in the parking lot, said he would try the pork patty melt. And he thinks the sandwich would appeal to everyone, even though it costs $18, he said. 

“These days, I think the casual fan will spend money just because of the success of the team,” Baska said.

But whether the food is good is another story. A local food critic reported that the pork patty melt’s slaw was “overabundant” and the funnel cake was “overdone.” 

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