Peanuts, Cracker Jacks and All-You-Can-Eat Hot Dogs at Major League Baseball Games

By Brandi Koskie - Senior Editor for

Summertime in the U.S. means baseball. And baseball means peanuts and Cracker Jacks (and maybe even a beer). Did you know that a serving of salted stadium peanuts (8 ounces) has 1280 calories? One serving of Cracker Jacks (a half-cup) has 120 calories. A light beer has about 170 calories in the 16-ounce serving.

Peanuts aside, a handful of Cracker Jacks with a beer is going to barely set you back 300 calories. For a ballgame snack, that sounds reasonable. You want to be able to enjoy the entire event experience.

But what happens when you go back for more? Maybe grab some nachos? How about a hot dog, or three? The calories start wracking up the way Babe Ruth did home runs. This is a possibility at 19 Major League Baseball stadiums, as they now have all-you-can-eat concessions. It's a roughly $40 ticket that gives you free reign to fill up on hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos, ice cream and lemonade, all while watching the game.

So couple the atmosphere with affordability and accessibility (one price, all you want) and you create an easy way for people to overindulge and stuff themselves on low-quality, nutrition-void food.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get moderation. We're all for it. We promote it and many of us at even follow this method in our own living. But there's a difference between moderation and an all-you-can-eat-buffet that lets your wildest cravings, temptations and lack of self-control go wild.

One Baltimore Orioles fan, a stadium that has an all-you-can-eat section in the Orioles' Left Field Club Picnic Perch, told Sports Illustrated that he buys the $40 ticket for that section because "It's an easier walk" to the concessions and that he eats "double to triple in the all-you-can-eat- seats as he normally does at an Orioles game." Matthew Cavalier, the fan, says "Well, it's all-you-can-eat, I figure I might as well take advantage of it."

Which is where our concern, and that of many nutritionists, comes in to play. It might appear to be cost-effective on your wallet, but it's absolutely not cost-effective for your health.

If you ask if it's a responsible move on the part of the MLB to make these concessions available, they'll likely counter by letting you know that the all-you-can-eat section does include a salad bar. We haven't seen it, admittedly, but our educated guess is that it's full of iceberg lettuce, fatty dressings, fatty cheeses, croutons and the like. At that point, you might as well get the hot dog.

And let's be real, who is going to a ballpark to eat a salad? Even Cavalier admitted "It's nice that they're trying for healthier stuff, but I'm at a ballpark."

The bottom line is, just because you have a free pass to eat as much as you want, doesn't mean you should. Like we said at the start, enjoy the experience, but keep it in check. A serving of Cracker Jacks and a light beer is a great ball game snack for less than 300 calories.

Watch our slideshow: Stadium Food Calories

Read more news about health and baseball:

Coors Field Introduces Gluten-Free Concession Stand

Michelle Obama Recruits Baseball Players in Anti-Obesity Campaign