Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Friar Frank Faceoff

Well, yesterday was the day. Our first glimpse of the Pad Squad for the year. Our first high five from the Swingin' Friar. And our first taste of the NEW FRIAR FRANK!

As you know, the Padres have been staging taste tests all month for the signature Petco Park hot dog. Jbox, Jon and I made the trek out to Parkway Plaza to cash in on free dogs, but more importantly, to perform our duty as hot dog eating fans and register a vote. Just like any democracy, you're not allowed to bitch and moan if you don't actively participate in the politics. We had to be there.

The setup was simple. Head to the mall. Receive a frightened Weinershnitzle toy for your antenna from a dude dressed up as a giant hot dog. Taste a couple dogs. Vote.

Our Pad Squad representatives at this function were Dimples and Headband Man. Both served admirably in acting enthusiastic and aloof at the same time. Pad Squad interview question: Can you get me to cheer for my team while at the same time make it clear to me that you're soooooo much more popular than I am? Yes? You're in! (Except for visor girl. Pure intensity. 100% of the time.)

But I digress...

The Playing Field: Two halves of two different dogs. One yellow toothpick. One green toothpick. Your choice of condiments. Included with the standards - onions, relish, ketchup and mustard - was a brown deli mustard. Do we get that this year? That's awesome.

Now, I made sure to eat a little something beforehand so that I wouldn't be hungry. If you're too hungry, everything tastes good. That being said, I am recovering from a cold, so my senses were a little bit dulled.

I bite into green first. Delightful. A smoky flavor. Crisp skin. Probably from the plate grill. That's another thing. Are they going to be grillin' up the dogs like that? Keep in mind this is a plate grill and not an open one so no charcoal or anything, but distinctly different from steamed on the rollers like they usually are.

Yellow one seems to be a little more tender. A little less salty. Is that liver I taste? Are these all-beef dogs? Do I even want to know? I better go back to green.

Green, again. Now this one's tasting pretty salty. I'm barely three bites in and I'm already feeling a little gurgle in my tummy. I really should be seated so I can digest properly. This isn't going so well. Across the way, I can see the hot dog man taking pictures with some people. Who wants a picture of that? Oh, wait. We got some pictures of that too.

I taste yellow again and now I can't tell the difference. Jon and Jbox are both nodding that yellow is better, but I'm so confused. The liver I tasted is gone. Everything's the same. What if this is some weird, elaborate hoax and these are the same hot dog? Eh, what do I care. They were free.

I've made my vote. Even though I've now mixed up the hot dogs and am not sure which is which, yellow it is. I grab a whole yellow hot dog and eat it to justify my selection. Nearby, the Swingin' Friar is giving some little kid one of the hot dog antenna toys. The kid's ecstatic cause he has two of them now. Jbox has gone off to interview some Pad Squadder who doesn't have a jersey yet. Jon and I, embarrassed, make our way to the mall entrance.

Now, here's the thing with these tests. I've read Blink. I know that Coca-Cola screwed themselves by releasing New Coke based on tests just like this. The Padres people must know that unless one hot dog is clearly horrible, there's no way that one dog's going to be preferred over the other by any significant margin. So why do they do this? It's propoganda, man! They know that they screwed up with the food situation last year. Their signature items were almost hidden throughout the park. The dogs were unremarkable. Randy Jones, instead of selling his BBQ in a cool wooden stand, sold out of a couple modified streamliner trails. That ain't appetizing! People were already feeling the sting of raised ticket prices however unconsciously that might have been. It only serves to remind them of how much they're paying for soda and beer. Keep in mind, every other eating establishment in the universe will give you a free refill with your soda, but not ballparks, man. And they had the added pressure of competing with outside restaurants. Jess and I got into the habit of picking up a Philly steak sandwich from the deli at Trolley Towers before each game. Then we'd carry drinks in.

So now, they want to hype their new menu in the hopes of getting us fans to eat at the park again. How do they do that? Friggin' all you can eat dogs. Here, have a dog on us. At the park they'll be $3.50 apiece. Yes, we know that you can get a dog and a Coke at Costco for $1.50. That extra $2 is for the priveledge of eating a Friar Frank. Sucker.

But what's most upsetting is even though I've had this realization just now. And even though you're reading this and I've exposed it to you. We'll both still go to the park and probably buy a few dogs this season. And that's fine. While you're at the ballpark, you shouldn't care that much. You should be enjoying the game. Blogs is where you rant. At the park, you root. Blogs: rant. Park: root.

I'll tell you one thing though. They better not have no non-food service organizations running concessions again this year. I may be a sucker enough to buy your food, but the least you could do is have Fundraiser McGee get it to me in a reasonable amount of time.

Propoganda dogs leave a bad taste in my mouth! Pun.... INTENDED!