Stadium Food: What Do You Eat?

MSGSnacksGraphicSnacks at Madison Square Garden

It is the beginning of baseball season, but more importantly – at least in my family – it’s the beginning of hockey playoffs. To call us True Blue New York Rangers fans might be an understatement.

So what do you eat when you go to a game? Many stadiums now offer “gourmet” and “specialty” food – at Madison Square Garden you can buy both sushi and gluten free sandwiches – but from my observation, most fans at sporting events still opt for burgers and dogs, popcorn and peanuts, soda and beer. Every year, especially at ballparks, there seem to be some new “upscale” additions, but from those I’ve heard advertised this year, the size, calories, and price are almost guaranteed to make your clothing a bit more snug and your wallet a bit lighter.

So what do you choose when there are food vendors about every 20 feet hawking dogs, hot pretzels, fried everything, and mega-sized desserts?

Classic Stadium Food – Make Good Choices

If you’ve got a will of iron you could ignore the food and drinks.  But, if you don’t — or don’t want to — you can try to minimize the caloric damage without taking away the fun.  If you know you’re going to be having a stadium meal, do some thinking and planning.  The best choices aren’t always the obvious ones.

Must you have both peanuts and popcorn?  Can you make do with a regular hot dog instead of a foot-long?  Can you keep it to one or two beers instead of three?  Can you choose the small popcorn instead of the jumbo tub? Can you ditch the soda — or maybe the second one — and replace it with water?

It’s all about choices. Here’s some info about 10 foods that most likely will call your name at one time or another:

Hamburger:   A plain 6-ounce burger made of food stand beef (they’re not using extra lean – the more fat, the juicier it is) on a bun has about 490 calories. Cheese and other toppings can significantly up the ante.

6-ounce grilled chicken sandwich: 280 calories – not a bad choice.  6 ounces of chicken tenders clock in at 446 calories.  Barbecue dipping sauce adds 30 calories a tablespoon.

Hot Dogs: Most sold-out baseball stadiums can sell 16,000 hot dogs a day. A regular hot dog with mustard has about 290 calories — that’s 180 for the 2-ounce dog, 110 for the bun, zilch for regular yellow mustard. Two tablespoons of sauerkraut adds another 5-10 calories and a punch of flavor, 2 tablespoons of ketchup adds 30, and 2 tablespoons of relish another 40. A Nathan’s hot dog racks up 320 calories; a foot-long Hebrew National 510 calories.

Pizza: Stadium pizza is generally larger than a usual slice, about 1/6 of a 16-inch pie (instead of 1/8) making it about 435 calories a slice – don’t forget that toppings add calories.

French Fries and Nachos: A large serving of French fries has about 500 calories. A serving of Hardee’s chili cheese fries has 700 calories and 350 of them come from fat. A 12-ounce serving of super nachos with cheese: (40 chips, 4 ounces of cheese) has about 1,500 calories! Plain French fries look like a caloric bargain by comparison.

Cracker Jack (officially cracker jack, not jacks): candy coated popcorn with some peanuts. A 3.5-ounce stadium size box has 420 calories but also has 7g of protein and 3.5g of fiber.             

Cotton Candy: nothing but heated and artificially colored sugar that’s spun into threads with added air. Cotton candy on a stick or wrapped around a paper cone (about an ounce) has around 105 calories; a 2-ounce bag (common size) has 210. A lot of sugar, but not a lot of calories – albeit empty ones.

Peanuts in the Shell: What would a baseball game be without a bag of peanuts? Stadiums can sell as many as 6,000 bags on game days. An 8-ounce bag has 840 calories; a 12-ounce bag has 1,260. Yes, they have some protein and fiber.  But wow on the calories.

Soft Pretzel: One large soft pretzel has 483 calories – giant soft pretzels (7-8 ounces) have about 700 calories.

Ice Cream: Your team’s mini-helmet filled with swirly Carvel, 550-590 calories. A Good Humor Chocolate Éclair has 160 calories, 8g fat, 11g sugar; a Fudgsicle Fudge Bar has 100 calories, 2.5g fat, 13g sugars; a Klondike sandwich, 81g has 250 calories, 17g fat, 18g sugars.

Popcorn: At Yankee Stadium a jumbo-sized souvenir bag has 1,484 calories and a souvenir bucket has 2,473 calories. On average, a 3-ounce bag of all brands (plain/ready-to-eat) has 480 calories and 24g fat.


  • Junior Mints, 3-ounce box:  360 calories, 7g fat
  • Sno Caps, 3.1-ounce box:  300 calories, 15g fat
  • Milk Duds, 3-ounce box:  370 calories, 12g fat
  • Raisinets, 3.5-ounce bag:  400 calories, 16g fat
  • Goobers, 3.5-ounce box:  500 calories, 35g fat
  • Twizzlers, 6-ounce bag:  570 calories, 4g fat
  • M&Ms, 5.3-ounce bag:  750 calories, 32g fat
  • Peanut M&Ms, 5.3-ounce bag:  790 calories, 40g fat
  • Reese’s Pieces, 8-ounce bag:  1160 calories, 60g fat

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