Say it ain’t so, Vin: Farmer John Dodger Dogs are no more
It was Vin Scully’s best pitch, and he threw it for half a century. From transistor radio to satellite television, fans would know it was time for Dodger baseball when they would hear Scully invite them to pick up a pack of Farmer John Dodger Dogs.
Dodger Stadium is dotted with signs promoting “World Famous” Dodger Dogs. Concession stand menus offer the “Traditional Dodger Dog.” The anthropomorphic statue beyond center field, with a mustard-covered hot dog as its torso, also advertises the Dodger Dog, but the Farmer John logo has been removed from its base.
The Dodger Dog is celebrated in Pop art and in pop culture, with references in such classic television shows as “Entourage” and “The X Files.” In the movie “The Sandlot,” one kid heckles a boy as “a weenie,” then another amplifies his taunt: “Footlong! Dodger Dog!”
Kenley Jansen recorded a four-out save and the Dodgers’ offense showed life in a 5-4 win over the Padres as the L.A. crowd took on a more familiar look.
The extra-long dogs peek out of both ends of the bun. The Dodgers have regularly sold 3 million of these hot dogs per season, and fans have relished them (pun intended) at the stadium since Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale pitched for the home team.
“Say, friends, you can’t make it to the game, but you still want that one-of-a-kind Dodger Stadium experience?” Scully used to say. “Well, all you need is Farmer John Dodger Dogs, available now at your local grocery store. One bite of that legendary hot dog, your couch becomes your own personal baseline seat. You’ll practically be able to smell the grass.”
Farmer John Dodger Dogs were the local dogs, made at a Vernon plant seven miles from Dodger Stadium. Scully was the voice of the brand, and the voice of the Dodgers.
To generations of fans, the hot dogs were not just Dodger Dogs. They were Farmer John Dodger Dogs, and fans practically sang along with Scully’s lyrical recitation of the company’s catchphrase: “Easternmost in quality, Westernmost in flavor.”
Jon Miller, the voice of the San Francisco Giants, performs Scully impressions in English, Japanese and Spanish. Scully was so identified with Farmer John that Miller did a Spanish imitation in which the faux Scully hawked “Farmer Juan.”
On its company website, Farmer John had said that Scully was “once introduced as ‘Farmer John’ himself. Naturally, we can’t think of a bigger compliment.”
Dodger Dogs are not gone at Dodger Stadium, but Farmer John is.
Smithfield Foods, the parent company of Farmer John, issued a statement to The Times that read in part: “Farmer John had a long-standing and valued relationship with the Dodgers. After the 2019 season, Farmer John made the difficult business decision not to renew its contract with the Dodgers. … Unfortunately, through the latest contract negotiations, we were unable to come to an agreement that was beneficial for both parties.”
Ten former USC Song Girls described to The Times a toxic culture within the famed collegiate dance team that included longtime former coach Lori Nelson rebuking women publicly for their eating habits, personal appearance and sex lives.
Farmer John instead signed a sponsorship with LAFC.
The Dodgers hold the trademark for Dodger Dogs, so Farmer John cannot continue to produce and sell them, even away from the ballpark. The trademark expired last month, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but the Dodgers have until August to take advantage of a grace period for renewal.
Dodgers President Stan Kasten said the team soon would announce its current hot dog supplier. The team’s first priority, he said, had been “an elaborate process” in which taste testers could ensure that a new recipe for a stadium dog would result in a hot dog tasting pretty much like the old, familiar one.
That is the one now sold as the “Traditional Dodger Dog,” or simply as the “Dodger Dog.”
“This was as close as they could imagine to what people were used to,” Kasten said.
“It’s a Dodger Dog through and through.”
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