The idea of serving edible grasshoppers at a baseball game isn't as crazy as it sounds.
The Seattle Mariners brought that curious offering to their ballpark this season, and although it might have seemed like a head scratcher to many fans and foodies, this crispy snack was more than just a quirky attention grabber.
"This is like an authentic local delicacy," said Diana Evans, a vice president of strategy and marketing for Centerplate, the Mariners' hospitality partner. "We're thrilled that people are excited about it."
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The chapulines -- toasted grasshoppers with chili-lime salt seasoning -- arrived at Safeco Field this season courtesy of Poquitos, a Mexican restaurant in Seattle that serves them. For those fans who could wrap their minds (and mouths) around the idea of eating insects, the item proved quite popular, selling out during the opening home series.
In an era when ballparks are constantly trying to add new features and attractions, spicing up the menu can be an easy way to enhance the experience for spectators. There will always be room for hot dogs, popcorn and peanuts, but Seattle's experience with the chapulines shows how a creative new food offering can become the talk of baseball for a little while -- and any team can pull it off.
"Much like teams will use the offseason to make a big splash with a free agent signing or renovation ... from a food and beverage standpoint, we'll use the offseason to evaluate our menus and develop new offerings as well," said David Freireich, a spokesperson for Aramark, which provides food and beverage services at eight ballparks.
Although fancier food items can create some buzz at the ballpark, there are constraints. Fans do still want to watch the game, so a dish might not work if it's hard to eat or takes a long time to make.
The chapulines, on the other hand, can be eaten like just another ballpark snack.
"Making sure that it's something that you can walk around with, making sure that you don't miss too much of the game while you're waiting for it -- and having it be both enjoyable and easy to eat," Evans said. "That is, right there, our sweet spot."
Here are some of the more exotic culinary offerings from around baseball this season: