Every year for the past several, the Texas Rangers and Sportservice, the concessionaire for Globe Life Park in Arlington, have rolled out some increasingly over-the-top new concession items right before the start of baseball season.
And every year for the past few, they have held a preview event where the press gets to sample the items. It's hard to walk away from this event. No, really — after you've sampled some of this stuff, even if you're relatively diligent about not finishing it, you tend to want to take a nap or to want someone to pick you up with a dolly and roll you to your car.
Take, for instance, the Lay's Home Plate Chicken Sandwich. It consists of an enormous hunk of chicken breast crusted with Lay's potato chips and then fried for, as the publicity material says, "a sandwich as big as home plate!"
They served only part of the sandwich at the media preview, but it is bigger than anything you'll find at Chick-Fil-A or Super Chix. The "portion" served at Monday morning's event could probably feed two people; no wonder concession representatives said that what people usually do with a $27.50 item like this is share it with the family.
The sandwich is served with lettuce, pickles, tomato and spicy mayo, but the chicken dominated everything and had a nice crunch to it. The spicy mayo was barely noticeable.
The sandwich will be available at the Flew the Coop Stand at Section 50.
Other items sampled Monday (not all the new stuff was available for preview):
The Triple B: This bacon, brisket and bologna sandwich was the item I'd come back for; the bacon could have been a little crispier and a lot less translucent, but the thick-cut bologna gave the sandwich a big boost, and the Sweet Baby Rae's BBQ sauce topping everything helped add variety to the flavors. $18; available at the Homeplate Butcher Block at Section 24 and the Smokehouse 557 at Section 49.
Cheetos Jalapeño Bacon Dog: This is a good, and relatively tame, idea in theory: a bacon-wrapped hotdog covered in Cheetos cheese sauce, then topped with jalapeños and more Cheetos. The trick is getting all the components in one bite, which wasn't easy with the sample size. The Cheetos and jalapeños kept falling off, and the cheese sauce was used sparingly. Still, at $11 for the full-size version, this is worth checking out. Make sure you have napkins. Available at the American Dog Stand at Sections 22 and 48.
The Dilly Dog: A hollowed-out pickle (from Mansfield-based Best Maid) is stuffed with an Angus beef jumbo dog, then battered and fried. It looks like a huge corny dog and is actually pretty good — if you'd put pickles on a hotdog, why not put a hotdog inside a pickle? After that first bite, though, watch out for a hotdog that refuses to leave the stick and a coating and a pickle with a tendency to fall apart. For 10 bucks, this is a pretty filling value. Available at State Fare Stand in Section 41.
The 7th Inning Cinnamon Roll: It looks kinda like a huge, battered cinnamon roll lollipop, and for someone with a sweet tooth like mine, the marriage of cinnamon roll and funnel-cake batter sounds like a match made in heaven. But the flavors fought each other a little, and the batter covers up one of the best things about a good cinnamon roll: getting to that sweet, buttery center. $10; available at State Fare Stand, Section 41.
Rold Gold waffle cone: Hard to complain about a section of waffle cone, with Rold Gold pretzels mixed in, stuck into a small scoop of Blue Bell Ice Cream. But a sample isn't going to give the full experience of this thing; the cone was tasty, but the ice cream is supposed to be stuck inside it, not the other way around. And the cone is supposed to be, you know, a cone, not something the size of a tortilla chip. $9.25; available at the Ice Cream Stands at Sections 11 and 23.
A few items from the Rebecca Creek Saloon, including a poblano burger (good) and smoked pork ribs (better) rubbed with dry chiles and brown sugar, were also available for sampling. There's a familiar name behind those items, as well as the Rebecca Creek bacon-jam burger: Coby Baumann, who used to run Thurber Mingus, a now-defunct west Fort Worth spot that had similar creative takes on burgers and tacos. No special membership is required for the Rebecca Creek Saloon, where new items range from $11 for chicken or brisket tacos to $15 for the burgers and pork ribs.
Also available for sampling were items available in the suites, including a Texas Mediterranean mezze, a filling cup (but face it, everything was filling) layered with classic hummus, red pepper hummus, tzatzki, black-bean puree, feta and olives and served with pita chips and thick lavash. It was practically virtuous after all the other stuff, but we'll always be drawn to that Triple-B sandwich.
Although they weren't available for sampling, a couple of new vegan options will be available this year, including Vegan Top N Go Frito Pie (with vegan chili and cheese) and the Vegan Nacho Grande.
The items will be available for Thursday's opener against the World Series champion Houston Astros. Game time is 2:40 p.m.