Whether it's the television show Man vs Food or our fascination with the competitive eating circuit, never has the American public been more hell-bent on trying to eat its collective self into a collective coma.
As new and exciting food challenges at bars and restaurants drive cholesterol and heart rates through the roof around the country, major league sports venues have climbed aboard the gluttony train.
The latest salvo fired comes from the Texas Rangers and the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington.
Say hello to the "Boomstick," a one-pound, two-foot-long hot dog that when completely adorned with the fixings will send you home from the ballpark feeling like Nelson Cruz has repeatedly beaten your lower intestines with his bat.
What are those fixings? Well, try a layer of chili covered in caramelized onions, a layer of melted jalapeño cheese, and then (presumably just in case the jalapeño cheese wasn't jalapeño-y enough for you) some actual jalapeño peppers.
When asked about this gastrointestinal menace, Casey Rapp, operations manager for Sportsservice, which handles concessions at the park, said, "I don't know how many calories are in this thing, but it's got to be 2,000 or 3,000." As if there's no difference between 2,000 and 3,000, and honestly if you're talking about one food item and one sitting, there probably isn't. You're tangibly shaving minutes off of your life either way.
"We did a half-pound hot dog during the World Series and wanted to top it," Rapp said. "Our company had to have the hot dog made special and we had to find a local bakery to make the bun. The bun is like a loaf of bread just to hold this thing."
Total price for the "Boomstick"? $26.
To put the sheer magnitude of this piece de cardiac resistance in perspective, the regular "Jumbo Dog" at the ballpark is one sixth of a pound (and $4.50), so the mere hot dog portion of the "Boomstick" is six times a regular hot dog sitting.
As you can imagine, portability of the item would be a bit of an issue. That's why Rapp's crew has given the "Boomstick" a special carrier, complete with handles. Not that I'm one to chastise people for their food choices, but if you're buying food that requires its own luggage, it may be time to re-evaluate you choices. Carriers with handles are fine if you're checking luggage at the airport, not so much if you're looking for a snack in the third inning. Of course, the huge hot dog is supposed to serve four people, but let's face it -- we live in Texas (where bigger, fatter and hungrier is the order of the day) and there's beer (the lubricant for a majority of bad decisions) at the ballpark. In other words, expect some wannabe one-man wrecking crews.
"I don't recommend it, but I'd be impressed," Rapp said. "It's almost as long as a youth bat. I'm sure fans will try it just to see if they can do it."
The hot dog is the latest example of the Rangers "going big" at the concession stands. Last year, they introduced a three-pound pretzel and it was successful enough that it's back for 2012.
So the countdown is on. How soon until Carlos Lee demands a trade back to the Rangers?
Your move, Minute Maid.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.