After five days, things are getting messy, and it's more than just chocolate syrup, Spam and fried onions.
MiLB.com's #foodfight, a battle of the Minor Leagues' unique, delicious and iconic ballpark concession items, has already produced some early front-runners. Toledo's Fantastic Freeze Sundae -- a full-sized batting helmet filled with basically every item found in an ice cream shop -- leads the voting in the Gutbuster category, owning the slimmest of edges over West Michigan's mammoth Fifth Third Burger.
#foodfight, if you haven't voted yet (vote early and often), takes 64 items (or behemoth entrees, to be more correct) found at Minor League Baseball stadiums and submits them to fans for voting, split into four categories: the aforementioned Gutbusters, Hogs 'n' Dogs, Local Legends and Scrumptious Sandwiches. Fans vote as often as they'd like for an item each in each category on MiLB.com and Twitter (the latter by including #foodfight and the team or item name). Fans who vote can enter a sweepstakes whose grand prize winner gets a trip for four to the ballpark of the winning food item, including airfare, hotel accommodations, game tickets and a food voucher so they can taste the winner.
Right now, the destination of that trip is up in the air, but a strong candidate is the Durham Bulls with their Nuke Dog, created and named to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Bull Durham. The Nuke Dog owns a commanding lead in the Hogs 'n' Dogs category, while the Lancaster JetHawks' gourmet Grilled Tri Tip Sandwich has a narrow edge on the Gwinnett Braves' Knucksie in the sandwich bracket.
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, among the most well-supported club in the Minors in fan attendance, have early bragging rights with its Aw Shucks Roasted Corn getting the most overall votes while leading the Local Legends category. The 'Pigs' corn dish is no ordinary cobb -- it features locally grown ears of sweet corn brushed with butter and a secret blend of Southwest spice and parmesan cheese. The Bristol White Sox have been heavily promoting its Grand Slam Pie via Twitter, and that item currently ranks second in voting for the bracket.
Bristol's Twitter campaign isn't the only example of teams going door to door for support -- the Buffalo Bison set up a campaign for its Fried Bologna sandwich. The campaign claims that the Blue Jays affiliate produces the best food in Western New York (the dish ranks No. 4 in voting). The Louisville Bats have taken a simpler approach: through the magic of Twitter, fans can vote by simply retweeting a message about the dish. The Bats' scored at least 100 votes for their Pork Chop Sandwich with that method.
State College has taken perhaps the most elaborate approach to promoting its Spam-topped pizza with a full video spoof from the ballpark:
There was also a touching message of support among Brewers-affiliated mascots when Bernie Brewer, the iconic mustachioed, slide-riding Milwaukee mascot asked fans to throw their votes behind Class A Wisconsin's Fang's Venom Burger, a favorite of Timber Rattlers mascot Fang T. Rattler:
Fans aren't the only ones following along, either. USA Today made its picks for #foodfight, with Montgomery's Aloha Burger, Myrtle Beach's Chicken Bog Balls, Northwest Arkansas' Funnel Dogs and Corpus Christi's The Babe earning top nods.
Mashable highlights eight of #foodfight's dishes, including Missoula's made-to-order Bats and Balls and Fang's Venom Burger again. ESPN.com's Darren Rovell is spreading the word, while the Sports Business Journal calls the contest "food porn."
Again, each vote for your favorite items enters you for a chance to win a trip of a lifetime to sample these fried delights with three of your closest friends. Other #foodfight sweepstakes prizes include four tickets to a Minor League game of your choice and a Minor League Baseball prize pack.
Fans can vote and enter the sweepstakes on Twitter: simply follow @MiLB, tweet the hashtag #foodfight, and include the name of the team or food item you wish to vote for. Retweets count as well. Vote as many times as you like via both methods -- Round One runs until May 29 and the Final Round takes place May 30-June 6.
So, are you hunrgy yet? It's time to vote.