Franks a lot
Dollar Hot Dog Nights score for bargain-hungry Astros fans with big appetites
The scoreboard may have read “Astros 11, Athletics 8” last night at Minute Maid Park. But we know the real final score: “No. of fans in attendance 34,075, hot dogs eaten 36,934.”
Another big win, big crowd, big appetites on “Dollar Dog Night.” Nothing succeeds like success … on the field. The league-leading Astros are 5-1 on Wednesday night home games this year.
Buck hot dogs certainly help bring in the crowds. The Astros are averaging more than 35,000 fans on Wednesday nights. That’s hundreds of thousands of Nolan Ryan all-beef hot dogs gobbled in the stands. Plus the dogs that fans buy in the 9th inning for take-out. I’ve seen fans buy hot dogs by the bunch and stuff them in purses and pockets as they leave the ballpark.
I once interviewed the manager of an all-you-can-buffet restaurant. I asked him, “What happens when a group of famished construction workers or Sumo wrestlers comes in here. How much money do you lose when they eat everything in sight?”
He said, “Lose money? Let’s say we make a little less money when people like that come here and put a ton of food away.”
Do don’t cry for me, Houston Astros.
“Baseball fans love hot dogs, and hot dogs are still our most popular item,” said Mat Drain, the Rajah of Relish for Aramark, which runs the food operations at Minute Maid Park. “We have seen a significant increase in the number of dogs we sell this year on ‘Dollar Dog Night’ compared to last year.”
The Astros set a “Dollar Dog Night” record on June 14 earlier this month – 46,211 franks sold during the Astros’ 13-2 trouncing over those dirty dog Texas Rangers.
Fun fact: June 14 is Flag Day … and President Donald Trump’s birthday. “Making hot dogs great again.”
The Astros are poised to set a single-season record for “Dollar Dog Night” sales. They’re already over 200,000 hot dogs sold, with five more Wednesday night home games on the schedule.
“The schedule was good to us this year. We have three more Wednesday night games this season than last year,” Drain said.
While hungry Astros fans line up for dogs, Aramark does the fans right. The dogs you get for a single on Wednesday nights are the same 1/6th-pound dogs the stands sell for $5.50 on other game days. Some baseball teams offer smaller hot dogs on their “Dollar Dog Nights.” As Mr. Trump would tweet … “Sad.”
To accommodate the dog-buying public, the Astros open six to 12 extra concession stands that sell hot dogs-only. The team also converts a few other stands, which normally sell a wide arrange of items, to dogs-only. Aramark employees know the drill, it’s all hands on deck, nobody gets Wednesday nights off.
It’s the same deal back in the kitchen. Ovens are going full blast cooking 35,000-45,000 hot dogs for one seating.
The rules are simple: Fans can buy up to four hot dogs per visit to the concession stands. There is no limit on how many times you can hit the stands. The team sells hot dogs until the final out. It’s not like beer, they don’t cut off sales in the seventh inning. So eat away.
I asked Drain, “Do you fear ‘Dollar Dog Nights’ or do you get pumped like a highly conditioned, world class athlete preparing for an important competition?”
He said, “I leave the stadium smelling like a hot dog, but I would not trade those busy nights for the world!”
The next “Dollar Dog Night” is July 19 against the Mariners. Come hungry and enjoy the pennant race.