Boardwalk, Amusement Park, and Stadium: What Do You Eat?

Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, NY

Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, NY

Cotton candy or funnel cake? Corn dog or fried clams?  The food of summer.  What do you usually eat beachside or after the roller coaster?

Oh, the choices!  Oh the calories! How can you possibly not chow down on thousands of calories when there are food vendors about every 20 feet hawking dogs, ice cream, and fried everything?

Are You Ready For Peanuts, Popcorn, and Cotton Candy?

Sports stadiums, amusement parks, street fairs.  What do you usually do at these places – other than watch games and have a blast on the rides? EAT, of course!

The food- the calories! What a challenge when there are food vendors about every 20 feet hawking hotdogs, ice cream, and fried everything!

There Are Ways And Then There Are Ways

If you’ve got a will of iron you could ignore the food and drinks.  But if you’re tempted at every turn, you can try minimizing the damage without taking away the fun.  If you know you’re going to be having a stadium or boardwalk meal, do some thinking, planning, and sleuthing.  The best choices are not always the obvious ones.

Do you need 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?

Make Your Best Choice To Save Some Calories

It’s all about choices. Just make the best choice from the food that’s available and still enjoy traditional boardwalk and amusement park food. It’s really possible to make some reasonable choices on boardwalks or at amusement parks or stadiums that aren’t caloric disasters. Weigh your options – what do you want to do and what’s your best choice?

Here’s some info about traditional foods you might find at ballparks, boardwalks, street fairs, and amusement parks.

Use Some Of These Facts As Guidelines:

  • Cotton Candy: Nothing but heated and colored sugar that’s spun into threads with air added – and sometimes preservatives. 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.
  • Cracker Jack (officially cracker jack, not jacks): candy-coated popcorn with some peanuts. A 3.5-ounce stadium size box has 420 calories but does have 7g of protein and 3.5g of fiber.
  • Hamburger:   6 ounces of food stand beef on a bun has about 490 calories. Vendors don’t use extra lean beef because the more fat the juicier the burger for you and the cheaper the cost for the vendor. Cheese and other toppings add additional calories.
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich: A 6-ounce sandwich of grilled, not fried, chicken has 280 calories and isn’t such a bad choice.  Six ounces of chicken tenders clock in at 446 calories.  Barbecue dipping sauce adds 30 calories a tablespoon.
  • Hot Dog: 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 to10 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. A regular size corn dog has around 280 calories.
  • Fried Battered Clams:  A boardwalk staple.  1 cup (5 large clams or 8 medium clams or 10 small clams) has around 222 calories.
  • Pizza: Stadium pizza slices are larger than a usual slice, about 1/6 of a 16-inch pie (instead of 1/8) making it about 435 calories a slice – add calories for your toppings.
  • Nachos with Cheese: A 12-ounce serving (40 chips, 4-ounces of cheese) has about 1,500 calories!!! Plain French fries look like a caloric bargain by comparison.
  • French Fries: A large serving has about 500 calories. A serving of Hardee’s chili cheese fries has 700 calories and 350 of them come from fat. Curly fries (7 ounces) have 620 calories, 30g fat.
  • Potato Chips:  One single serving bag has 153 calories (94 of them from fat).
  • Peanuts in the Shell: What would a baseball game be withouta 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. A one-ounce bag of Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts has 170 calories, 14g fat, 2g sugars.
  • Popcorn: At Yankee Stadium, a jumbo size has 1,484 calories and a souvenir bucket has 2,473 calories. A small bag of buttered popcorn that holds 5 cups has 470 calories, 35g fat. A large, 20 cup bucket of buttered popcorn has 1640 calories, 126g fat. Three and a half cups of kettle corn has 245 calories and 6g fat.
  • Soft Pretzel: One large soft pretzel has 483 calories and 5g of fat. Giant soft pretzels (7 to 8 ounces) have about 700 calories.
  • Funnel cake:  The fried dough wonder and staple of fairs, boardwalks, and amusement parks, funnel cake is made by pouring dough through a funnel into cooking oil and deep frying the “funnels” of dough until they’re golden-brown and crispy – then topping the pieces with powdered sugar, syrup, or honey.  Different cultures have varying versions of fried dough – sometimes it’s long strips and sometimes just round fried balls of dough. The calories vary enormously depending on the quantity and toppings.  Just remember, regardless of the shape, they’re all dough fried in oil topped with a sweetener.  That means high calories and low nutrition.  You probably have to figure a minimum of around 300 calories for a 6-inch funnel cake (do they ever come that small?).

Ice Cream

  • Helmet Ice Cream: Your team’s mini-helmet filled with swirled Carvel has 550-590 calories.
  • Fudgsicle Fudge Bar (1 bar, 64g):  100 calories, 2.5g fat, 13g sugars
  • Klondike, The Original (1 sandwich, 81g):  250 calories, 17g fat, 18g sugars
  • Good Humor Ice Cream:
    • Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bar (83g):  230 calories
    • Toasted Almond (113g):  240 calories
    • Candy Center Crunch:  310 calories
    • Low Fat Ice Cream Sandwich, vanilla:  130 calories
    • Chocolate Éclair (1 bar, 59g):  160 calories

Soda, Lemonade, and Beer

  • Coke, small (18-ounces): 218 calories
  • Coke, large (44-ounces):  534 calories
  • Coke, 12-ounce can:       140 calories –- and close to 10 teaspoons of sugar
  • Minute Maid Lemonade (18-ounces):  248 calories
  • Minute Maid Lemonade (44-ounces):  605 calories
  • Draft Beer: A stadium draft beer, a 20-ounce cup, the usual size –has about 240 calories. A light draft saves you 60 calories.
  • 12-ounce bottle of Budweiser:  144 calories, 12.8 carbs, 4.7% alcohol
  • 12-ounce can of Bud Lite:  110 calories, 6.6 carbs, 4.2% alcohol
  • 12-ounce bottle of Miller Lite:  96 calories, 3.2 carbs, 4.2% alcohol
  • 12-ounce bottle of Miller MGD 64:  64 calories, 2.4 carbs, 2.8% alcohol

For more information about calories in summer drinks, click HERE. here.


Take note the serving size — movie theater and amusement park boxes of candy are often huge and may be double or triple the size shown below.

  • 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:  1160 calories, 60g fat
  • Snickers (1bar, 59g):  280 calories, 14g fat

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