West Michigan Whitecaps, Baseball and 'The Baco' Taco
Food is all about fusion these days, combining fabulous tasting ingredients into a sum greater than its parts
Like bacon. And tacos. Meet "The Baco".
On April 4, opening day for the West Michigan Whitecaps baseball team, fans will be able to buy The Baco after voting for it in an online contest for new menu items. The Baco is made from bacon strips fried into the shape of a taco shell, then filled with lettuce and tomato. Think of it as a BLT without the bread. Mayo comes on the side.
"I tried one this morning for the first time. I thought it was awesome," said team spokesman Mickey Graham. "I will probably eat about 22 this year."
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As someone who considers bacon one of the, er, two basic food groups (chocolate is the other), I had to taste The Baco for myself.
Graham overnighted me a few packed in dry ice. I carefully unpacked them, briefly reheated one in the microwave, then filled it with lettuce and tomato. Finally, I took a bite.
If you love bacon (AND WHO DOESN'T?) you'll love this. I also got a great sodium buzz, so I kept a close eye on the location of the nearest defibrillator.
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Is this how they eat in Michigan? The Whitecaps are a farm team for the Detroit Tigers based outside Grand Rapids. Graham said attracting fans to the ballpark has to be about more than just baseball. "It's all about the promotions and the fireworks—and the food is always part of that." He said the team has weathered the downturn in the Michigan economy by keeping "the ticket price low, the value of the experience high."
Part of that value is the annual contest to choose a new menu item.
"Every year we try a different food," said Graham. "Sometimes they're winners, sometimes they're losers." Items that failed include the "Chicks with Sticks", which consisted of sliced vegetables on a stick served with hummus.
Seriously? Fans voted for that? That sounds like something we'd go for in California. The Whitecaps eventually took Chicks with Sticks off the menu when it didn't sell well. "Fans ultimately vote with their wallets."
The team has no idea if The Baco will be nearly as popular as the biggest fan-selected hit so far: The Fifth Third Burger, which has "the highest caloric item ever served in a ball park—it's about 5,000 calories." When I asked Graham if that burger has killed anyone, he paused. "Not yet. I hope not."
—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells