To this point in my little tour of ballparks and their freakishly large concessions, I've been focused on dinner. Giant sandwiches has mostly been the point, because, hey, a growing boy needs his dinner. Eventually all of that needs to be followed by a refreshing dessert, though. For that, I headed to Chicago and US Cellular, the home of the White Sox, to give this monstrosity a whirl.
That's a 12-scoop ice cream sundae, and it's not served in one of those adorable mini batting helmets. You can't fit over three pounds of sundae into a mini batting helmet, you know. Before I went to dessert, though, I had to have dinner first, so we'll come back to this shortly.
Before I ate that -- that being a bacon mac-and-cheese burger -- I had to jump through hoops at The Cell. Let's relive me jumping through them, so you get the full story of how I came to eat dinner and dessert one night in Chicago.
Review: Bacon Mac-And-Cheese Burger and 3-pound Banana Split Sundae
Finding dinner and dessert
As I've done with every park and concession so far, I picked up tickets for the White Sox game with the idea that I would sit where I wanted to and just walk to the necessary concession stand later. So, I picked upper box seats behind home plate, which gave me a tremendous and inexpensive view, and then set forth to find a burger and a sundae with my Chicago traveling companion, Baseball Prospectus' Mauricio Rubio.
You must eat this 18-inch, cheese-filled corndog
Can a $25 corndog be a bargain? Marc Normandin traveled to Chase Field in Arizona to sample the cheese-filled, 3,000-calorie D-Bat Dog in all its delicious, gloopy glory.
It turns out that both of those food items are locked away in an exclusive part of US Cellular. You can only access the concession stand where these items live if you are sitting in the 300 Club Level, the Diamond Suite, or the Stadium Club, all of which cost 3-4 times as much the upper box. That seemed like a potential problem, but hey, I'm a journalist, how hard could it be to get access to where I need to go, even without a ticket?
It turns out that it's very hard to get to where you need to go if you are dealing with a dude who is a total dick. I don't need to share his name or anything, because he was just doing his job even if he was doing it in a dickish fashion (and I'm not that vindictive), but he was having none of the story that I needed to eat food for work. He simply sat on his stool in front of the elevator, and talked down to us about our need for a ticket and that there was nothing that could be done now please go back to your peasant seats.
There was something we could do, though. I checked with the ticket stand on the lower level concourse about upgrading at least one ticket, with the idea being I'd grab the food and head back to where I was sitting for your standard eating and photographing. When I made a face at the cost of said upgrade, the helpful employee leaned in to tell me I should head to Guest Services to plead my case, and that they would probably work something out for me. Guest Services was close by, so we made our way there, told them about how I was trying to make science happen, and they interrupted my case to tell me it was no problem then handed me what was essentially a US Cellular hall pass.
You would think a signed-and-dated White Sox hall pass that specifically says we can head to the 300 Level through it's elevator would be enough for Stool Dude, but nope. He told us it was worthless and that we needed a ticket still, and that it wasn't just him stopping us, but the man checking tickets at the top of the elevator. So, we found and took the press elevator up to the 300 Level instead, walked by the room the White Sox' announcers were in, and when we got to this ominous ticket-checking man, he saw our pass and just asked for a ticket -- any ticket -- to let us continue on our way.
Stool Dude is the worst.
The Bacon Mac-And-Cheese Burger
If macaroni and cheese is too oily, it can be easily over-baked. They got this just about right, though, as the pasta was still soft, it still felt a bit creamy instead of oily, and the burger itself was still juicy enough to help out with the consistency of what I was inhaling. Plus, it was just $10, which is probably what this would cost outside of the overpriced world of ballpark concessions.
Yeah, it wasn't huge like a lot of what I've been eating, but it hit the spot and gave my stomach something besides sugar and dairy to work on for the rest of the night. My only suggestions are that they switch it to butter over oil for the mac-and-cheese, and that hot sauce becomes a default topping: this thing would have immediately shifted from good to great if the White Sox just put it on there themselves. As for the switch to butter...
Creamier pasta, less of that when I finish. This is good stuff I'm giving you, Chicago. Take heed.
How The Sundae Was Made
We went back to our seats for a few innings, but the White Sox were getting embarrassed -- this was the night Adam Dunn pitched -- so when the fifth began, we headed back to the land of the sundae, hall pass in hand. It was time for dessert, and that dessert was 12 scoops of ice cream -- four each of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry -- covered and surrounded by bananas, cherries, a whipped cream topper, and chocolate sauces. It weighed over three pounds and was inspired by the chef's children having an ice cream eating contest. Finishing the sundae before it melted was going to be a problem. On the bright side, this beast cost just $17, making it the second-cheapest of all the enormous ballpark concessions I've had the pleasure/trial of trying this summer.
We were told by an employee that a competitive eater finished it in under three minutes, but he didn't share his name. I can only assume this is because the man died of a massive brain freeze moments after finishing, and that the White Sox wanted to distance themselves from this tragedy, or could not legally speak on the matter lest it be used against them in court.
The First Bite
The layering of this thing was a problem, as they piled all the vanilla in, then all the chocolate, then all the strawberry. It was hard to notice that at first, but digging around for a bite I wanted for the first showed this was the case: almost the whole top underneath the whipped cream was strawberry.
The cherries were not great. I'm not a fan of bananas, so don't trust my opinion when I say they weren't good, but Mauricio agreed with my assessment and he has no prior bias against them, so it's probably safe to say they were not good. That's okay, though, there were plenty of other things here to eat, and it was already melting just a few minutes in. We were in an air conditioned room on a cool Chicago night, and the ice cream was turning to soup in a hurry.
Oh, Right, Ice Cream Melts
Eating ice cream straight out of the container right out of the freezer has its benefits. What it's being stored in is also cold, so it takes awhile, at least relatively, for things to melt to the point of being unrecognizable. This is not the case when the ice cream is taken out of the freezer and placed in a batting helmet. By the time I finished off the whipped cream and got to the chocolate layer -- a process that took just a few minutes -- things were getting ugly.
It's not out of control just yet, but a few minutes later -- when vanilla finally surfaced -- it was clear the ice cream was getting to be far less ice and more soup. It was still edible and resembling ice cream, though, so it was simple enough to keep making a dent in this monster. I did make the decision to switch to two spoons, though, so I could shovel it in there quicker by planning out a bite in advance.
When ice cream melts, eating it doesn't have the same enjoyment. It's supposed to be melting in your mouth with each spoonful, but when it's already melted -- and there are three kinds of ice cream blended together -- it's a little more like eating soup. Soup is great and all, but it's not ice cream. This is still acceptable...
...but once you get to this, things have taken a turn:
They were stalactites, by the way. I blame the sudden influx of sugar in my system for my confusion. I kept pushing through to find the solid bits of ice cream that were left behind -- most of which were the vanilla at the bottom of the bowl -- but I was running out of reasons to keep at this.
The Last Bite
I wasn't going to finish this off by drinking the former-ice cream out of the helmet, especially since maybe one-third of 12 scoops of ice cream remained even if they were no longer in a recognizable form. Instead, I found what looked like a spoonful of vanilla and chocolate, and said goodbye to this three-pound sundae.
On the positive side, I felt good physically, even if psychologically I didn't want to touch ice cream again for a while. After about 10 minutes I felt it weighing down in my stomach a bit, but that feeling quickly vanished after I drank some water, which I'm assuming worked mostly because it wasn't more sugar or milk.
Disposing The Vomit Cream
I hoped to keep the batting helmet as a trophy, but I had to clean it out first. So I headed to the bathroom with a helmet containing what at this point looked like what happens when someone vomits ice cream.
I wanted to say "gross" out loud right before I flushed, but there was a dude in the stall next to me and ID'ing my purple Converse was going to be pretty easy for him later on. I'm allowed a little bit of self-respect here and there.
There were a few chunks of ice cream left at dumping time, but the rest of it was just wrong and had to be disposed of. Cleaning what still clung to the helmet in the sink wasn't too bad, except for the few bits of cherry that rinsed out with the rest, and I only got one weird look from someone in the bathroom while doing it. Let's call that a success.
It's not a matter of having room for the ice cream. It's a matter of desire to eat something that is, about 10 minutes after getting it from the helpful and happy staff at The Cell, no longer ice cream. If you're by yourself and want to try to eat it as quickly as possible even if it means your brain might freeze and never unthaw, by all means, have at it. If you're with a group of friends and want to use them all to finish it off while it's still in ice cream form, go for it: they'll bring you as many spoons as you ask for, and the default is four if you forget to specify. If you want to take your time with your ice cream, however, and want to eat it alone, then get something else. Or at least order a bacon mac-and-cheese burger first so you have something besides this three-pound sundae in your stomach. Just the two combined for all of $27, and you won't need anything else the rest of the night.