Pity the poor pre-2008 baseball fans who never had the opportunity to chow down on a Ben’s Chili Bowl half-smoke at Nationals Park. Nothing wrong with the old traditional ballpark hot dog, mind you. But there’s something magical about the smoky, meaty goodness of a half-smoke during a ballgame on South Capitol Street.
Go ahead, try to make sure all of the accompanying chili makes it into you mouth when you bite down on this enticing delicacy. I dare you. Bun, meat, chili - that’s ballpark bliss. But there’s a reason napkins aren’t an optional accessory.
Now, you can place the Ben’s Chili Bowl half-smoke in its rightful place atop a list of ballpark grub assembled by USA Today as part of its 10 Best Reader’s Choice awards, an online poll to decide which handheld meal is the best of the best.
The competition is, well, fierce. Tasty, but fierce. Shrimp boil at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn.; bacon blitz bread at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.; elote at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles; hot chicken mac and cheese at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. In all, 20 iconic endemic staples are featured on the online foodfest, which pits the yummiest eats at baseball, hockey, basketball and football venues against one another.
They’re guaranteed to make you hungry. Is it lunchtime yet? And by all means, let’s put the Primanti sandwich at PNC Park in Pittsburgh in its place - which is way down on the list. Probably below the Bloomfield piergoies at neighboring Heinz Field.