Please Give Me Back The Damn Onion Crank

The beautiful condiment island—home to pump bottles of ketchup and mustard and relish and barbecue sauce and honey mustard—in baseball stadiums’ concessions area is supposed to be a place of joy. Decorate your hot dog like it’s art. Live a little! This is baseball, after all. But since the pandemic, everyone is trying to innovate the experience of eating a hot dog at the baseball game, an experience that is already perfect.

Yesterday, I went to the game to see my dear Philadelphia Phillies, and when my friends returned with hot dogs they were in these strange plastic prisons: like a clam shell Tupperware individually sized for hot dogs. This is stupid! It’s single-use plastic in a world on fire, but it also makes the hot dogs harder to carry to your seat, and harder to add toppings to. The hits start coming and they don’t stop coming!

And that’s not even the worst part. The stadiums still have not given us back the onion crank! Yesterday was my first game of the season, and as I walked to my seat, I scanned the condiment island, hoping to see my old, lost friend the onion crank, but she was nowhere to be found!

The onion crank is a simple device. It is a funnel-shaped box filled with diced onions, and locked so no one can disturb them. There is a little hand-crank wheel at the bottom of the onion funnel, which you can turn and some onions will dispense. Even if you don’t like onions on hot dogs, there are many other foods that could use a little onion. Think about hamburgers and nachos! Concessions at stadiums are so expensive (I saw a man carrying $22 frozen margaritas yesterday, a mistake I will certainly make in the future). The least we deserve is to have nice toppings for them.

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In 2021, the Washington Nationals tried to install robots to dispense the condiments. They were terrible. And once they became my enemy, they were vanquished easily. Because I was the victorious winner of that particular battle, I was allowed to make demands. I demanded the pump tops return (they did) and that relish be included (this happened), and that the onion crank be returned (ignored!). No one returned the onion crank! I haven’t seen a single onion crank since the pandemic. It’s tragic, really. The onion cranks have also disappeared from another excellent place to eat hot dogs: Costco.

Costco confirmed in May of last year that diced onions would return to stores. This was a trick. They did not return the onion cranks. They added little plastic cups of onions that you could request. This is, I guess, better than the baseball stadiums where there are no onions, but it is a continuation of the trend of corporations treating their customers like children that need to be disciplined. It wastes plastic, wastes time, and wastes energy, when they could just give us back the onion cranks.

I know that the argument these companies make is that people will bring tupperware to the store and steal the onions with from the crank for free. To which I say, you make billions of dollars! White onions are so cheap. Please grow up. People could also, theoretically, steal condiments in containers. I’m sure they do. But that is such a small, infrequent problem over which to cause us all misery. The slight annoyance of a corporation should not rid all of us of joy.

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Please give me my onion crank back. I miss her.


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