Sports are volatile — one second, a fanbase is riding the high of a five-game winning streak; the same week, it’s nursing its wounds after a 21 to 5 drubbing. Regardless of the product on the field, one way teams try to keep fans engaged is by adding new food items. At a Thursday media event, the Chicago White Sox unveiled a few that might encourage fans to visit Guaranteed Rate Field, even if the team has been sleepwalking through parts of the season.
The new items are riffs on iconic Chicago flavors. There’s gyro nachos made with fried strips of pita (not tortilla) and topped with gyros shaved from the traditional Kronos meat cone. Savory parfaits are trendy at restaurants, and the Sox have one with mashed potatoes and pulled pork, served in the same same branded glass as their MVP horchata churro milkshakes. Arancini-like fritters are stuffed with Italian beef and cheese. Maybe that gives Carmy something to strive for in season 2 of The Bear. The balls are already a novelty at Buona (yes, the official Italian beef of the White Sox). The team is also selling a tribute to Maxwell Street Market, the pork chop sandwich — the Sox’ take is grilled and boneless on a brioche bun. The caramelized onions are a nice touch.
The White Sox are also serving their interpretation of chicken and waffles, with fried chicken and waffle fries smothered in their version of mild sauce, the insanely popular condiment on the South Side with a cult following, especially among Black Chicagoans. Executive Chef Bret Donaldson of Delaware North — one of the food service vendors at the stadium — says they used Harold’s Chicken Shack as inspiration for this treat and the White Sox have reverse engineered the recipe to create their own. This is the part of the article where it’s time to remind readers that recipes cannot be copyrighted. The popcorn chicken at Sox Park isn’t going to make anyone’s list of favorite chicken shacks, but it’s a nice tribute to a familiar Chicago taste.
Most of the items debuted after the All Star Break at the end of July. However, earlier this week, a new paletas cart began making its ways on the 100 concourse. The Sox licensed art from a former employee to decorate the cart; the same Día de los Muertos skull was used for a bobblehead. The Sox packed the carts with popsicles with brands including Helados Mexico. It complements Rainbow Cone, which debuted at the start of the season.
The Buona Italian beef balls are solid stadium food with cheese and beef in a crispy vehicle. The pork chop sandwich is mercifully not fried and looks good on Instagram due to the lopsided meat-to-bun ratio. The gyro nachos make for a solid single and will please nearly everyone (they should consider doing one without the meat for vegetarians). The chicken and mild sauce experiment comes with mixed results. If fans let the chicken sit out for too long, they will taste diminished returns. There are 20 home games left for the Sox this season. While the team may not taste Champagne at the end of the year, at least fans can taste something good.