…of circus snacks.
As a general rule, most people don’t go to the circus for the food. But when a show starts at 7 p.m. and is mainly frequented by small children and their families, staying away from the concession stand can be as difficult as staying away from the woman selling light-up swords. Buzzsaw Takes a Bite got a chance to experience both the food and the swords at the 80th Annual Tygris Shriner’s Circus in Syracuse on April 5. The Shriner’s prides itself on making all concession items on site. Whether it’s an indication of quality remains to be seen, but at the very least Shriner’s presented a decent number of offerings at the concession stands. They may not hold up to the (late) Garcia’s, but some of them were worth trying, if only for the experience.
Hot Dog- $3
The hot dogs were easily the most attractive option at the Shriner’s Circus concession stand — that is, if you’ve already gotten past any natural aversion to meat-mush. These certainly weren’t the all-beef franks you can pick up at Wegmans, but they were warm and tasted good. If you were lucky, the man serving them let you pick which hot dog you wanted. Even if you weren’t, you got a good hot dog served on one of those delightful buns that’s actually bread folded in half. I’m not sure if it is worth three dollars, but it certainly wasn’t awful.
Pretzels with Cheese- $4
Keeping with this circus theme, never in my life have I seen a concession stand so knowingly violate the rights of cheese. The very nature of the processed cheese flavored semi-liquid sauce served up next to pretzels was nachos is debatable; Shriner’s Circus called it cheese, but it looked and tasted too much like melted plastic for me to call it anything but sludge. The pretzels were okay at least. They were a bit over-salted, but not in a necessarily bad way — unless you’re not in the mood for a heart attack.
Admittedly, none of the Buzzsaw staff that journeyed to Shriner’s had the pizza, but it was clearly one of the more popular concession treats. One of Shriner’s veteran concession saleswomen said the pizza was by far the most popular item. It’s also the only addition to the menu in as long as concession manger Steve Bosco can remember.
Surprisingly, the nachos were one of the better circus treats. Supposedly, the nacho cheese served with them was the same concoction served with the pretzels. But this cheese tasted exactly as processed cheese flavored semi-liquid sauce should (i.e. like neither cheese nor plastic). And the chips were deliciously unhealthy and salty and crispy. Again, the nachos may have been another heart attack risk; but at least they tasted good.
The concession stand also sells cotton candy, popcorn, pretzels and a handful of Coca-Cola products. According to Bosco, the Shriner’s Circus has sold Coca-Cola exclusivity since it’s opening. The arena the circus is held in was formerly sponsored by Coca-Cola. Despite a name change and several decades, Coca-Cola remains the beverage of choice for the Shriners.
Ample supply of Diet Coke aside, the food at Shriner’s Circus wasn’t anything to brag about; but then again, it’s concession food at an eighty year old circus. The food clearly wasn’t intended to cater to a discerning palate. With this circus at least, the food lives up only to expectations of what it should be. And if you don’t like it, you can always take the clown’s advice and eat the pretty little girls.
Kait Hulbert is a sophomore CMD major and a vegan. Email her at khulber2[at]ithaca[dot]edu.