Friday, October 12, 2007

Cleveland Indians Mustard

With my Cubs out of contention, I am bound by marital contract to root for the Remarkable Marcy's hometown team, the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe opens the American League Championship Series tonight at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox.

It's debatable whether Clevelanders are as passionate about the Indians as Cubs and Red Sox fans are about their teams. But here's an indisputable fact: Tribe fans are unsurpassed in their allegiance to their mustard.

The sweet and spicy brown mustard served in the old Municipal Stadium and now at Jacobs Field is unlike mustard you can find anywhere else. It really is out-of-this-world good. But there's a little controversy that goes along with it. There are actually two different mustards that have been served in the Cleveland ballparks, both claiming to be the original.

One goes by the name, "Stadium Mustard." The other, made by a company called Bertman, is called "Ball Park Mustard." Some fans think they're one and the same. Some, while acknowledging they're two distinct products, say they're pretty indistinguishable. Yet others swear by one or the other.

To clear up the mystery, I sent out an URGENT QUESTION yesterday to some of my Cleveland friends - Jeff, Jeff and Ron (aka Jeff). I asked them if there was a difference and if so, what is it.

Here are the answers I received.

Ron, a work colleague: "I have never had Bertman's Ball Park Mustard because I swear by the Stadium Mustard. When I go back to Cleveland, I pick up a supply so I have it. There is at least one in the fridge and one in the pantry at all times. I always thought Stadium Mustard was an original."

Jeff, a frat brother from Ohio State: "Many have pondered this and few agree, however the mustard connoisseur in me and a user of both say no. NO. They are pretty much one in the same."

Jeff, a friend from Columbus who now lives in Chicago: "Huge difference. They are different products from different companies. Stadium Mustard was shut out when the Tribe moved to Jacobs Field and got new vendors. I think it also was shut out of the Cleveland Browns Stadium, too. I recall a fair amount of fan fuss when this occurred, but it was muted and short-lived because the Indians were so successful and Jacobs was such an improvement over Municipal Stadium."

The research I've been able to dig up bears out Chicago Jeff's answer. Two companies, two mustards, the point of differentiation came with the 1994 move from the old park to the new one.

I've had both and quite honestly, I couldn't tell you if there is a difference without a side-by-side comparison. Both are delicious and indigenous to Cleveland. But they're available online and worth the purchase price. Slather some on top of dogs, sausages or burgers. They're also good on crackers and/or cheese.

I'll end with a musical tribute to the Indians. Here's a fuzzy-looking YouTube offering with photos set to Randy Newman's "Burn On."

Go Tribe!


Anonymous said...

Bertman's is the original recipe which was sold under the name Stadium Mustard until a dispute between owners was settled by giving one side (Bertman) rights to the recipe and the other side rights to the name "Stadium Mustard." Most Clevelanders don't even know this and are loyal to the brand name they recognize, even though Joe Bertman was the originator, and his daughter sells that recipe as Ballpark Mustard. Having tasted them side by side many times, Bertman's is by far the better of the two, though Stadium Mustard tastes just fine. It was Bertman's that got shut out of Municipal Stadium during it's last years, as Art Modell went with the "Authentic" Stadium Mustard people. Cleveland Browns Stadium continued to offer the newer recipe while Jacobs Field currently sells Bertman's Original Ballpark Mustard.

Anonymous said...

Ball Park Mustard was the one used at League Park, Cleveland Stadium, Euclid Beach, and so on. Stadium Mustard is the same recipie that is cut with more watered down vinegar. It was cheaper and the thinner texture allowed the Stadium Mustard to spread out the volume on each batch. For many years Cleveland Stadium put out both because of the loyalty to the Joe Bertman Family, but in the end Modell's Stadium Corp. went with the cheaper price.

ed markowski said...

i live in detroit, both mustards are available here. am a dog & sausage fanatic, preferring koegel'S & nathan's all beef franks, johnsonville brats & papa joes sicilian sausage. both mustards are outstanding though i give a slight (2 point) edge to bertman's due to its creamier texture. i always have bertman's on hand, if i can't find it, i will resort to stadium. being an enemy from that camp across the lake, that says a whole lot.