There's a condiment bar-shattering development in the story of Charley Marcuse, the Detroit Tigers' singing hot dog vendor who was fired last week. As Big League Stew told you on Saturday, Marcuse was fired after 15 years of sausage slinging while singing at Comerica Park, and Tiger Stadium before that.
Now, The Detroit News has dropped a bombshell report that could turn the concession industry upside down. Marcuse may have been fired because ... HE HATES KETCHUP.
The mustard-only hot dog crowd, a circle of traditionalists who would rather eat a tofu dog than one with ketchup, has a long-standing feud with ketchup tolerators. Marcuse is anti-ketchup all the way, even using the hashtag #LongLiveMustard when he tweeted to announce his firing. The Detroit News reported on Thursday:
There are rumblings the real reason was ketchup — or Marcuse’s disdain for it. Marcuse, at the ballpark and on Twitter, has been a strong crusader for only putting mustard on a frank. And some fans thought he got combative when they asked for ketchup. There were complaints filed.
Asked whether condiments actually were behind his dismissal, Marcuse was vague.
“It was general employee conduct,” he said, relaying the reason he was given. “I’ve vended the same way for the past 15 years, so there’s nothing new to any of this.”
The Singing Hot Dog Man will no doubt find many allies in baseball fans, to whom hot dogs are a long-standing tradition and to whom mustard-only is a core value of their belief system. Marcuse tells The News that he carried ketchup because he was required to, not because he wanted to.
[F]or him, mustard is all that belongs on a hot dog. He even parlayed his Tigers fame into his own line of mustard, Charley’s Ballpark Mustard, sold by many area grocers. “Kids come up to me,” said Marcuse, “and say, ‘Hey, 10 years ago you taught me to just put mustard on a hot dog.’”
Another ally Marcuse has is The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. In its official Hot Dog Etiquette guidelines, the council writes: "Don't use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18. "
Marcuse says he has already filed a grievance against his employer, Sportservice, the Tigers’ concession vendor.
We attempted to reach the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council to see if they were going to lend any resources to aid Marcuse's battle, but they were gone for the day. Or had they already started a sit-in at the nearest Wienerschnitzel for the world's new mustard martyr? If so, were they singing?
It goes without saying that this could escalate the feud between mustard-only activists and ketchup tolerators to critical levels. Relish has already reportedly moved to the other end of the condiment bar so that it doesn't suffer any collateral damage should the two sides starting squirting at each other.
Russian president Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has been mentioned in back-room talks as someone who may be able to help negotiate a peaceful resolution if things get too messy.
BLS H/N: Hardball Talk