Why is it customary to eat peanuts and cracker jacks at baseball games?

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If you’ve ever been to a baseball game, you might have noticed vendors selling peanuts and Cracker Jacks, while other people seem to have come with their own. It can seem like a strange phenomenon, but just how has it become the norm when at other sports people are chowing down on hot dogs and fries? This is the story of peanuts and Cracker Jacks at the baseball game.

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Back in the 19th century, baseball was the national pastime, but it’s perhaps not as popular as it once was. As the years have gone on the sport has had to make way for more popular activities such as football and basketball. When it was at its peak, every man and his dog wanted a ticket to the big ball game which meant there were a lot of eyes on the field. One keen businessman, a ballpark concessioner named Harry Stevens spotted an opportunity.

Stevens sold advertising space around the field to a peanut company, but instead of taking payment in money he chose to take it in peanuts. Rather than taking the money from the peanut company, he took their nuts and sold them at the games. The peanuts were a huge success because baseball fans had their hands free, allowing them to eat the nuts to expend their nervous energy. Inevitably, the peanuts became something the fans looked forward to just as much as the action.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Although peanuts were becoming hugely popular in the sport, they would get a helping hand to ensure they would stick around for the rest of time. In 1908 the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was released and that would ensure peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and baseball would stick together forever. The song would be a timely reminder to fans in attendance that they were missing out on some tasty peanut treats. “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks” is a line in the tune which prompts many baseball fans to seek out a vendor and get their helping of peanuts.

Peanut vendors

As the demand for peanuts and Cracker Jacks keep rising, the vendors at the games always made sure they had enough to keep the fans happy. While advertising might not have been paid in peanuts any longer, the vendors were not responsible for keeping the tradition going. Thankfully the baseball fans had already developed a taste for peanuts and Cracker Jacks, so the tradition stayed and is as popular now as it ever has been.

Over 3 million bags of peanuts are sold at baseball games every year, showing that fans have the same appetite for them as they ever did. Not only do fans get traditional style peanuts in bags, but the peanuts are now used as an indulgent treat on things such as waffles and pretzels. Thanks to some savvy business ideas back in the 19th century, peanuts and Cracker Jacks became a baseball essential, and they are as loved now as they ever were.