Chicks with Sticks received 31% of the votes from the top 10 finalists' contest. Second place in the voting was the Meat Salad, a seven-meat treat, with 27% of the vote. The third place vote-getter was the Walking Spaghetti, a 16-inch loaf of Cole's garlic bread loaded with spaghetti, meatballs, marinara and cheese, weighing in with 15% of the vote. None of the remaining seven options received more than 5% of the votes (Mac 'N Cheese Burger Burrito, Honey Bun Burger and Bologna Lollipop - 5%; Sonoran Dog and Big O Sandwich - 4%, Meat Man Parfait - 3% and Duck Hog Frog Dog - 1%).
The Whitecaps solicited ideas for new food items back in January, whittled the list down to 10 finalists, and opened the voting to fans in February.
Lisa Baird of Jenison submitted the Chicks with Sticks entry. Her idea was inspired from her own switch to healthy eating after recently joining Weight Watchers.
"I thought, 'What on earth could possibly be served in this type of venue that wouldn't be heavy, and would be portable?' I had recently switched from eating pita chips and hummus to eating healthier veggies and hummus, and it made perfect sense," said Baird. "It's portable, it's sharable, it's a win-win for everyone. I was trying to be cute and clever with the name - it's not the most outrageous food, but it can still be fun! I know I'll be eating my share of Chicks with Sticks at the ballpark this season!"
Chicks with Sticks will be served from the Wrap cart on the concourse behind home plate, a natural fit to join other healthy food options there such as the Chicken Caesar Wrap and salads.
None of the other top 10 finalists will be served at the ballpark this season; however, Whitecaps management has selected several new food items, both on the concourse and on the suite level.
New items available to all fans on the concourse are: Jet Brand Iced Coffees (mochas, coffees, etc.) Hebrew National Hot Dogs (all-beef kosher hot dogs) Johnsonville Brats (new bratwurst supplier) Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches - served out of Sweet Meats Smokehouse Mac 'N Cheese - served out of Sweet Meats Smokehouse Fried Pizza Rolls - served out of Sweet Meats Smokehouse
New items on the suite level include Feta Flatbread, California Club Wrap, Caprese Sandwich, Fish Tacos, Hummus Platter, Chicago Popcorn, Mini Muffaletta Sandwiches, Baked Mac 'N Cheese, Baked Goat Cheese Tomato & Red Pepper Dip, and Crab Dip.
Last year's contest produced a tie for first place; therefore, both the Cudighi Yooper Sandwich and the Declaration of Indigestion were available to fans. But if you didn't enjoy them last year, you're out of luck; neither will return to the menu in 2011. Other discontinued items include the Italian meat sandwich, corn dog, strawberry shortcake and funnel fries.
Matt Timon, the Whitecaps Director of Food and Beverage, said the decision regarding what items to discontinue were based on on popularity among the fans, as judged by sales.
"Every year we take a look at how well each food item sells, and we tweak the menu accordingly," Timon said. "We try to identify new foods that we think fans will enjoy; those new items take the place of last year's items that didn't sell well enough to justify keeping them on the menu.
"Fifth Third Ballpark is a place for fans to enjoy not only baseball but the entire atmosphere - all of the sights, sounds and smells. Food is a big part of that experience. We're constantly working to improve on our food selections in order to give the fans what they want."
The interest in ballpark food options spiked two years ago with the introduction of the four pound, 5,000-calorie Fifth Third Burger, now internationally famous and the subject of several episodes of popular reality TV shows such as Travel Channel's Man V. Food and Food Network's Unwrapped. The Fifth Third Burger will again be on the menu, along with the popular eating challenge (finish the whole burger by yourself before the end of the game and you win a t-shirt and your photo on the Fifth Third Burger Wall of Fame). It is served from the Sweet Meats Smokehouse stand at the end of the third base concourse.
The Whitecaps open the 2011 home season on Sunday, April 10 against the Lansing Lugnuts at 1 p.m. Season, group tickets and individual tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131, coming to the Fifth Third Ballpark box office (open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) or visiting whitecapsbaseball.com.