Food Traditions at the Indy 500

This weekend holds a lot of significance. First, it is a time to honor veterans. We also welcome the summer season with barbecues and the return of white clothing. And we get to enjoy another tradition with the Indianapolis 500. The green flag at noon on Sunday marks the start of the car race’s 100th anniversary. Growing up, this race was always on our television during the Memorial Day weekend. The cars whizzed around the track while the sportscasters talked about how fast Andretti was moving or how long it took Rahal to change a tire in pit row.

Besides the traditions in my house, the Indy 500 is steeped in tradition, especially those involving food. A very popular food sold at the concession stands is a pork tenderloin sandwich. I wonder how many are sold, given that approximately 300,000 people attend this annual event? If you have yeast sensitivities, consider making your own by skipping the bun and substituting the breadcrumbs with crushed brown rice cereal or crackers. Click here for one version of the sandwich.

Domestic beer is another item that has very brisk sales among the visitors. Unlike most venues, spectators are allowed to bring their own alcoholic beverages as long as they are not in bottles because shattered glass is dangerous on the track. So people with sensitivities to yeast and sugar can bring their own beverages – perhaps some water, tea or whiskey.

Peanuts are considered to be bad luck at the race track because there is a legend that a crashed car was found to have peanut shells inside. This was good news for folks with peanut allergies until 2009 when the concession stands began selling them.

Another tradition, started in 1933, was the “milk tradition.” After that race, which was on a very hot day, winner Louie Meyer headed for his garage where he had a bottle of buttermilk in an icebox. As he drank, a photographer captured the moment and the next day the picture of Meyer drinking the milk was in the newspaper. Indiana dairy people thought it was wonderful publicity and since then there has always been a bottle waiting for the winner. If the winner was sensitive or intolerant to cow’s milk, perhaps the bottle could be switched with an alternative such as goat, soy, almond or rice milk.

Whether you spend a part of your Memorial Day weekend at a parade or barbecue, watching or attending the Indy 500, or doing something else special, I hope that you enjoy some foods that are delicious and of your own tradition.

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3 responses to “Food Traditions at the Indy 500

  1. Fun post. I’m heralding the return of white clothing myself.

  2. Clever write up, Sensitiveeconomist!

  3. Love these factoids!

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