Camden Yards Food
Tip #1 - The Peanut Church
The Old Otterbein United Methodist Church is not complaining, but today they are known as the "Peanut Church" for years of peanuts peddling at Camden Yards.
The church, named after German clergyman Philip Otterbein, was founded in 1771, a few years before the Washington administration. It existed in Baltimore long before the nearby Inner Harbor became a tourist attraction; some members of the church will tell you it was divine intervention that caused a revolutionary ballpark to be built just steps away.
In 1992, shortly after Camden Yards opened, the church had a surplus of peanuts that were intended to be sold at a strawberry festival (which, when you think about it, isn’t great product placement). They packaged them and took them out onto Conway Street to see if fans headed to the ballpark would buy them. They did. The rest is God-loves-baseball history.
Ever since the Old Otterbein, now alternately known as the “peanut church”, has been packaging and selling peanuts for just $1 a bag—the same price as they were the day they first tried to sell their extras—at all Orioles games, except on Sundays.
The profits from the sales of peanuts have gone to repairs, remodeling, and landscaping. The Peanut Church has added bottled water for sale before games and even has a Fan Appreciation Day at the end of the season.
Today, it’s quite an attractive place for people to gather and worship, and fans get a bag of peanuts for a fraction of the exorbitant price inside. It’s a win-win, unless the O’s were counting on peanut sales to pay Adam Jones’s salary.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’ve had plenty of kick myself in the head moments since beginning research for Ballpark E-Guides. One of them was finding out about a church that sold peanuts for $1...after having made about 50 trips to Baltimore to see my O’s play. Oh well, better late than never I guess.
Tip #2 – Polock Johnny’s
I remember going through the programs from Orioles games at their old home of Memorial Stadium when I was a kid—which as you now know was more than 20 years ago, so I’m dating myself. Back then there was usually a prominent ad for Polock Johnny’s sausages contained in the program, and I remember even then thinking that it must be a cool local institution.
Polock Johnny’s has been a Baltimore institution for even longer than the Orioles have. And no doubt older O's fans associate the name with the ad in the programs from back in the day.
Like the return of Natty Boh, the addition of Polock Johnny’s to Camden Yards is apparently an attempt to connect with the team’s past relationship with the city. I think a competitive team helps serve that purpose, but I'm not complaining.
Polock Johnny’s has two other locations outside of Camden Yards—the Lexington Market location has closed—and they are highly regarded by Baltimoreans. Yelpers gush about the snap and smoky flavor of the sausages, and the special sauce that goes on the “Works” sausage—a combination of tomatoes, vinegar, peppers, onions and other spices. One Yelper even compared Polock Johnny’s in stature to Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington.
There are two Polock Johnny’s locations in Camden Yards, at Gate A at the south end of Eutaw Street, and on the third base side of the lower level.
Polock Johnny’s is every bit as much a taste of Baltimore as Boog’s.
(Praise the Lord photo courtesy of Old Otterbein.)
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