Monday, May 25, 2015

Los Angeles fans speak frankly

Out there they'll tell you, it's just not a game without those Dodger Dogs

Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda (right) walks past counter featuring the popular franks.
Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda (right) walks past counter featuring the popular franks. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff photographer
Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda (right) walks past counter featuring the popular franks. Gallery: Los Angeles fans speak frankly
At 5:07 Pacific Standard Time, Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw threw the first pitch of the 2009 National League Championship Series - a strike - to Phillies leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins.

Denise Towa never saw it. Although she could hear the crowd erupt behind her, her focus was with what was ahead: Dodger Dogs. Towa lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Canoga Park. She and her husband, Scott, had been at the stadium for more than a hour but had waited until the game started to stand in line for their dogs.

"Oh, you never eat them before the game," said Towa, a half-dozen people back from the counter where the footlong frank that is second only to Vin Scully in Dodger fans' hearts is sold. "You have to eat them during the game. I've tried eating them at home, you know buying them at the market and eating them while watching a game on TV. They're good, but it's not, you know, the full experience."

Indeed, any Dodger fan knows that the day after attending a game, the two questions they are most likely to be asked are, "How bad was traffic?" and, "How many Dodger Dogs did you eat?"

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"I once ate six," Scott said. "It was a bet. The last one hurt, but I got it down."

In health-conscious Southern California, Dodger Stadium has served the dogs at a gut-popping pace. This season, the stadium once again led the majors in hot-dog consumption, selling somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 million Dodger Dogs at $5 apiece. It's been like that since the stadium opened in 1962. Local meat outfit Farmer John collaborated with Dodger concession boss Thomas Arthur to create a totally unique dog with a bit of a bite to it. They started with the length, 10 3/4 inches long - they're called footlongs but, like many wiener-related issues, that's an exaggeration.

"The size, of course, was the most noticeable thing," said Farmer John product manager Ian Lavellee. "But what really made it unique was that it was all pork. There was no mystery meat. And then there was the spices. The spice mixture was a completely unique blend and it's never been changed."

The Dodger Dog probably owes some of its popularity to the fact that is a homegrown tradition. Afterall, Southern California is well-known for importing - some would say stealing - things like sports teams and water from other parts of the country. Dodger Dogs are pretty much a West Coast item, though Lavellee says, every year, he receives about 100 requests worldwide for Dodger Dogs from homesick, and hungry, Southern Californians.

"We'll ship them a case, wholesale," he said. "They have to pay the shipping. That can get pretty pricey depending on where you are. But I've never heard any complaints."

Denise and Scott Towa weren't complaining, even though they were still a one person away from the counter when Shane Victorino was picked off first to end the top half of the first inning.

"Good things come to those who wait," Denise Towa said. "I mean, I just didn't come here for the Dodger Dogs. If you saw what we had to pay on 'Stub Hub' for these tickets, you'd know that. But I gotta have my Dodger Dogs. It's not really a game without them."

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