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Origins of Iconic Sports Foods

Origins of Iconic Sports Foods


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Gatorade, Cracker Jack, Big League Chew, Wheaties — some food all-stars of the sports world

Arthur Bovino

Michael Jordan sipping Gatorade courtside.

You've heard the story before. An assistant coach of a struggling team at the University of Florida sits down with university physicians and together they devise a drink that turns around its season. From being sipped in dugouts and by NBA hardwood royalty to being doused over winning Super coaches, Gatorade has gone on to become inextricably linked with all sports forevermore. So as you're watching this year's MLB All-Star Game and hankering for some roasted peanuts, remember how this and other iconic sports food got their starts.

Some of these foods and drinks, like Gatorade, were originally conceived with sports in mind. For example, Big League Chew was actually the brainchild of actual athletes — two pitchers talking in a bullpen in the minors no less. Other iconic foods associated with sports, like Wheaties, weren't invented with any athletic endeavors in mind, but are so linked to them that it's almost impossible to think about them in any other way.

Then there are the legendary food and drinks that are associated with very specific sports locations and special events — like Gilroy garlic fries at AT&T Park in San Francisco; Dodger Dogs in Los Angeles; mint juleps, hot browns, and burgoo at the Kentucky Derby.

These legendary foods are so iconic that some, like garlic fries have even spawned imitators. At Yankee Stadium they've become so synonymous with the experience in the Bronx that young fans might not know they weren't invented there. (There's a whole generation of Long Island strong Mets fans who likely think Shake Shack is the only good thing their team "invented.") Some food and drinks, like juleps, are so loved, and iconic that they spill out of the confines of the stands and onto menus everywhere.

Whether it's between moments on the field, at stadiums, on television, or on the breakfast table, here are some of the most iconic sports foods and how they found their place.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.


The Origin Stories of 20 Fast-Food Restaurants

Did you know that McDonald's started out serving slow-cooked barbecue, that Subway was founded by a teenager, and that "Wendy" was really named Melinda? These fast-food origin stories may sound too good to be true, but we promise they're legit.

Read on to learn how some of your favorite chains got started. From the invention of the drive-thru to using college funds to start a business, these stories will give you a newfound appreciation for fast-food restaurants.