Brewers Fans Anticipate the Wurst
To many in Milwaukee, it's not a ball game without a bratwurst slathered with secret sauce
(Page 2 of 2)
The Souths, residents of Franklin, Wis., say food is an important part of their ballpark experience.Skip to next paragraph
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But brats are only one of six sausages available here. The others: Bavarian, kosher, Italian, Polish, and, of course, hot dogs.
"In Milwaukee, a city with a strong German heritage, sausages are king," wrote Bob Wood in his 1988 book, "Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks: The Ultimate Guide to America's Top Baseball Parks."
Mr. Wood, a ninth-grade history teacher, traveled to all the major league ballparks and rated them in various categories, including food.
Of the 26 parks (not including Baltimore's new Camden Yards), County Stadium tied for first in the food category with three others: Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., and the old Comiskey Park in Chicago.
Wood continues: "Buried in a soft, fresh bun, smothered in kraut and doused with a splash of that secret stadium sauce, baseball doesn't feature a tastier wiener."
The distinctive and mysterious "secret stadium sauce," a barbecue sauce, is a County Stadium staple kept hot on the gas grills for patrons to have spread on sausages right before their eager eyes.
"I believe that the formula [for the secret sauce] is every bit as secret as the formula for Coca-Cola," remarks Costas. Spiced with ambience
The sauce, distributed by Milwaukee Sportservice, is for sale at County Stadium and in Wisconsin grocery stores. The ingredients are listed on the bottle, but a skeptical Costas says, "That's just to fake you out." Among the ingredients is an unspecified "spices," which appears to be wherein the secret lies.
Those who enjoy the brat and secret sauce say that something is missing when you try making it at home.
"You're lacking the ballpark ambience," Costas says.
If one secret condiment isn't enough to tempt sausage eaters, there is always the secret stadium mustard. A brown mustard of a heavier consistency, it too makes a sausage a lip-smacking experience. But this item is only available at the stadium and is not packaged for distribution.
For those who like to think of the hot dog as the traditional ballpark fare, rest assured that they do well here, too. In fact, hot dogs are No. 3 on the bestseller list at County Stadium, according to Van Valkenburgh. The No. 1 and No. 2 spots go to beer and soda, respectively, and No. 4 is the brat.
"If you're going to the ballpark, you've got to have a hot dog - it's just as important as going to the game," says author Wood in a phone interview.
Home to a team named the Brewers, it's not surprising that County Stadium's bestseller is beer. But those who serve customers here recognize the need to provide an appropriate environment for consumption.
According to Van Valkenburgh, all Sportservice personnel go through an alcohol training program twice a year on how to identify and handle individuals who are intoxicated.
In addition, three designated family sections, located around the stadium, offer an atmosphere free of alcohol and smoking.