Rangers’ Dilly Dog Goes Boom
Delaware North Sportservice creation gets its own stand to help meet demand
- by Tim Newcomb
- Published: April 11, 2018
The Dilly Dog — a dill pickle filled with an Angus beef hot dog, fried like a corndog and served on a stick — is selling at a rate of more than 800 for every Rangers game. (Courtesy Delaware North Sportservice)
Casey Rapp knew he had a concession-stand hit even before the Texas Rangers opened the Major League Baseball season, when the team’s new Dilly Dog started popping up in posts on Twitter and Facebook.
But when Rapp, general manager of Delaware North Sportservice Arlington at Globe Life Park, saw lines stretching an hour long to buy the new $10 ballpark delicacy in the opening days of the season, he knew the Dilly Dog was no novelty.
“You never really know until the fans and media get ahold of it,” he said. There’s a race among concessionaires to develop crazy, headline-making food items, but “when you truly find a hit, it surpasses the craziness and actually tastes good, so people are buying it more than once.”
Now the Dilly Dog has expanded to a second location in the park, and the club is selling more than 800 a game.
The Dilly Dog capitalizes on the popularity of Bud Light’s “Dilly Dilly” catchphrase, but with good reason. The item — a dill pickle cored out and filled with an Angus beef hot dog, fried like a corndog and served on a stick — was born from thinking bigger.
Rapp’s team saw a posting on food website Delish that paired mini-hot dogs with pickles on a slider. “We love to Texas-size it and tweak it and make it our own,” Rapp said. “What if we went with a whole hot dog, whole dill pickle and put it on a stick, which is great for a ballpark because it is portable?”
They made it part of the menu at the State Fare concession stand on the park’s main concourse, with Bud Light close at hand, and the clever Dilly Dog was born.
After Sportservice publicized the menu item before the season “and we saw it on Twitter and Facebook, we knew the Dilly Dog was going to be a hit,” he said. “Even then, we were thinking 100 a game.” They sold nearly 500 for the Rangers’ home opener March 29, with the line an hour long the entire game. They prepped more and the dog’s popularity grew, sending the Rangers up to 650 of the $10 Dilly Dogs a game by the end of the initial four-game homestand.
The Rangers used the short road trip to turn a wings-only stand into a Dilly Dog-only stand in Section 9. They returned home April 6 and were selling more than 800 of the dogs each of the next three games. With the State Fare stand — known for crazy dessert combinations, such as the new cinnamon roll funnel cake — and the Dilly-only stand, the Rangers now have the dog on both sides of the park.
The trickiest part of making the Dilly Dog comes in the coring of the pickle. But for a team that prides itself on fresh-made items, as long as the pickle stays intact, Rapp said, stuffing in the hot dog and rolling it in batter with a stick isn’t that different from making any other corn dog. To give the item a bit of extra local flare, Rapp uses Best Maid pickles from Mansfield, Texas, about 15 miles from the stadium and hot dogs from Texas Chili Co., a 65-year-old Fort Worth-based company.
Rapp isn’t ready to add a third stand yet. He doesn’t want to overdo it and oversaturate the park with the item, instead hoping to work with Anheuser-Busch for a special Dilly Dog and Bug Light combo. He has considered turning the Dilly-only stand into a more customizable experience and letting fans add beef brisket, nacho cheese or something else, saying the “top your own Dilly Dog” may come next if sales continue as their current pace.
Typically, Delaware North Sportservice Arlington gives new items—they break out about 15 each season—until the All-Star break to see how they do, before switching out low-performing menu choices. The Dilly Dog has already made the cut, and may join the team’s Boomstick Dog as a phenom that becomes a legend.
The Boomstick was born in 2012, a 2-foot-long hot dog priced at $26. The item, meant to be shared, took off and was selling in five locations at 1,000 a game. It lives on (now at $27) at a Globe Life Park “24” stand with a handful of 24-inch-long items, highlighted by the Boomstick.
“The Boomstick, the Dilly Dog,” Rapp said, “those items are here to stay.”
- by Tim Newcomb
- Published: April 11, 2018