NORMAN — Eating should be more than just a biological function in football games. It must be part of the immersive experience.
In Oklahoma, Levy Restaurants has upped the food game in 2022 by adding new partners, vendors and franchisees that will please even the pickiest (or just picky) palate.
“It’s rocking,” said Cody Malone, Levy’s director of operations. “We’re making memories, right?”
“I can tell you, as a kid, being at Dodger Stadium, eating a Dodger Dog and getting peanuts thrown at me when I was 8 years old, those are the things: in Oklahoma City, rolling downhill at 89ers stadium on the left. field, eating items from a hull of ice cream, those are the memories that last you forever.”
In OU, the Sooner Nation has six home games where they can sample the plethora of new options in the ballpark. Go ahead, meet the family at the traditional pre-game venue. Enjoy every bite at the back door of your group.
But don’t ignore the food stalls. They are too good.
New this year is Cupbop: Korean barbecue in a cup. At Levy’s annual sampling media day this week, we tried both the pork and beef, and both were excellent. In addition to the salty meats, the noodles are marinated before being served on a bed of rice. Tell the server your heat level, 1 to 10. I ordered a 5 and it was pretty hot for me.
Nashbird returns this year with their Nashville Spicy Chicken Sandwiches. They are appropriately hot. Although a fresh bed of coleslaw comes standard, I opted for just the chicken breast between the buns for a more accurate comparison to the endless sea of fast food spicy chicken sandwiches out there. Frankly, this is at the top of my list. Sometimes the bird’s own flavor can be overwhelmed by the heat, but not in this case. The chicken itself was juicy and delicious, and the breaded spice paired perfectly with the meat.
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Even for those who don’t love corndogs, Fletcher’s Corny Dogs are simply the best corndogs on the planet. Seriously, trust me and try one. Fletcher’s, the same ones you get in October at the State Fair of Texas, joined the OU family of concessions last year. Of course I had one of those, as I will whenever they become available.
But I also opted for a couple of Levy’s novelty corndog items: the elote corn dog has a spicy Tex-Mex twist, and the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos corn dog has spicy shredded Cheetos sprinkled with sprinkled cheese. Adjust your expectations of what a corndog can be.
Boomarang Diner is new to OU this year and offers a variety of options, including the Diner Double: a cheeseburger, corndog, and tater tots. It was exactly what you’d expect (and sometimes need) from a ballpark concession stand, and if you’re not brave enough to try something new, you definitely can’t go wrong with this timeless classic.
Midway Deli has served Norman since 1955, but its fare is new to Memorial Stadium and includes all-time favorites like The Arnie Italian, Vulcan, Coach Switzer’s, Ranchero and Slammin’ Sammy.
You’ll be thirsty after all that, so stop by H-Tea-0, where there’s a seemingly endless variety of fruit-infused teas, no HFCS here, with raspberry, blueberry, peach, or any combination you can imagine. Blueberry was a bit sweet for me, but raspberry and peach were perfect.
I usually don’t leave a meal opportunity without diving into the dessert options, and I loved The Baked Bear’s cookie and ice cream sandwiches, but what really made it all better for me was Shake’s Frozen Custard Oreo Speedwagon. It’s crushed Oreo cookies mixed with delicious frozen custard, and it was divine. You may also like the Boomer Brownie Chunk.
This is just a sample, of course. There are many other options, such as a variety of corn flavored hot dogs, Pizza Hut, a Boomer BLT Skewer, warm pretzel with cheese sauce, a smoked sausage and cheese platter, and Boomer BBQ Brisket Sandwich, among others.
For Malone, however, what you eat isn’t as important as who you eat it with.
“Coming to a game with your dad,” he said. “I came to OU-Nebraska in ’85 or ’86, whatever the year was, and I remember having a hot dog and a big soda and taking home a souvenir soda at that time. Create memories that last a lifetime.”