Thursday, April 02, 2009

Five All Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles

Baseball season will soon be among us. In most ballparks, that means a hot dog , and buying some peanuts and Crackerjacks. At Fenway Park, where the Olde Towne Team plays, it may also mean a cup of chowder, a sausage sandwich (as long as you've got a roll of Tums), an incredibly shrinking Sportsbars or a Hoodsie cup.

But if you're at Comstock Park, in Grand Rapids, where the Western Michigan Whitecaps play, ballpark food stuffs can be a bit weightier than a foot-long hot dog.

A Boston Globe article I saw the other day, alerted me to a 4,800 whopper of a burger that they'll be selling at Whitecaps' games this season:

The 4-pound, $20 burger features five beef patties, five slices of cheese, nearly a cup of chili and liberal doses of salsa and corn chips -- all on an 8-inch bun.

Now, I'm a girl with a hearty appetite, but even the thought of this heart-attack-on-a-bun makes me gag. (Oh, gag, I just looked at the picture from the Grand Rapids Press. Thanks a lot, Grand Rapids Press.)

The ball club's spokesman says that their aim is promotional-only, and that it will be positioned as "a very unhealthy menu item."

Given that the calorie count is about double what the average man should be ingesting in a day, I'll say.

An organization called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has asked that the this whopper: labeled a "dietary disaster" that increases the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Oh, sure, no-fun nanny state and all that, but it's hard to imagine any team promoting a four-liter brewski, isn't it? Obviously, they don't want fans drinking themselves to death, or behaving in a beyond-the-Pale way. Or having to puke when they're beyond the reaches of a pale. But slow death by eating a few of these babies....Although the risk of projectile vomit would, I would wager, be the equivalent of what one might expect from a beer-induced retch.

The Grand Rapids Press reports that the team is a bit surprised by how much pre-season publicity their mega-burger is getting. It's being featured on "Inside Edition","The Today Show" and "The Early Show", as well as on ESPN.

Fans who manage to tamp the whole thing down will get a free T-shirt. Having worked a number of trade shows where free T-shirts have been handed out, I can guarantee that lunkheads will be coming out of the woodwork - or at least Michigan's Upper Pen - to get one. Sizes - surprise, surprise - run up to 5XL, a size I had previously never heard of. (For those with a more delicate appetite, the shirt can be purchased on line.)

As I've said, I like food. I could not, in fact, live with out it. That said, I would like to quote Chester A. Riley here: "What a revoltin' development this is." (Don't know who Chester A. Riley is? Ask a first-wave Baby Boomer.)

I do have a descent into pure gluttony in my history.

Many years ago, I went with a bunch of friends (which included my sister Kath) to a restaurant in Rhode Island called Custy's. I had heard that Custy's had been out of business for a while, but apparently it has been resurrected.

I have nary a clue about what it's like now, but back in the day, say 30+ years ago, it was an all-you-can-eat buffet, featuring lobster, shrimp, and prime rib - all for something like $14.95.  Anyway, a very large bunch of us - including a goodly proportion of hollow-legged guys in their twenties - went to Custy's one night.

We queued up in long lines separated by those velveteen theater ropes. I was standing holding the top (finial?) of one of the posts, and realized that the post was topped with a bright and shiny Delicious apple. This should have been a giveaway.

Anyway, we wended our way through the buffet, focusing strictly and intensely on the high priced goods. None of this soup, salad, and starch for us. We were big game hunting, and our big game was lobster, shrimp, and (for some) prime rib. We went through the line once. We went through the line twice. As the guys geared up to go through a third time, I told the gals: Yeah, I want to go through again, but this time I don't want any food. I want something else: a plastic toy, a handkerchief. I don't know - I just want something that's not food.

At this point, my sister Kath, our friend Joyce, and I decamped to the ladies' room. There we witnessed a raft of middle aged women vomiting - and then heading back for more food.

At this point, my sister Kath, our friend Joyce, and I decamped to the parking lot to await the rest of our party.

Hey, I eat plenty. I'm not wild about mini-portions, or twiggish meals. Still, there's a limit.

And that limit stops well short of the 4-pounder.

Gag, gag, quadruple gag.

Sure, there must be teen-aged boys and 20-something jocks who can consume this Michael-Phelpsian amount of calories. But there can't be that many. And, if you've got the metabolism and exercise regime that can support a 4,800 calorie meal (one meal!), you'd probably be better served by something other than a colossal burger slathered with chili and corn chips.

Anyway, I do wish the Whitecaps - great team name, by the way - a successful season. They're a Detroit Tigers minor league team, and I've always liked the Tigers - especially a few years back when they kicked the Yankees out of the ALCS (or was it the ALDS - in any case, they beat those bums!). But I really wish I hadn't stumbled on their contribution to American gastronomy.

This one just makes me want to order up an ice cube and a breath of sausage air next time I take myself out to the ballgame.

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