By Ben Strober
When surveying The Cape, you’re surrounded by a plethora of unique and memorable foods. Typically known for its seafood items, including lobster rolls or fried clams, some Cape Cod Baseball League teams joined the party.
An iconic food item in the stadium attracts fans and tourists watching the nation’s top college players clash. Located at Red Wilson Field, one food item calls attention above all, and it’s making a return this summer.
Following its removal from the menu in 2021, the donut burger returns to the Red Sox’s home ballpark in 2023.
“Donut burgers were enormously popular in years past,” Team President Paul Izzo said. “We had to put them aside in the pandemic years, but due to popular demand, we’re bringing them back, and the response from our fans has been tremendous.”
For many years, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox offered quite the eye-popping burger. This burger was by no means considered a traditional delicacy. – Yarmouth board members thought long-time grill volunteer Robert Phillips was joking when he introduced the idea in June 2003.
“People definitely underestimated how popular the idea would be,” Izzo said.
In July 2004, Phillips pursued his niche idea, creating the first-ever donut burger.
The donut burger was special because fans could get it in many ways. One burger named “The Screamer” featured the burger between a Boston cream donut, a staple pastry in the Massachusetts area. Another burger comes between a glazed donut, while the last type offered an unforgettable culinary experience.
“The Hurler” featured a jelly-filled donut with a dabble of canned cheese whiz on top.
“Our goal is to have a family-friendly environment, and I think the donut burger was a big part of that experience for our fans,” Izzo said. “Just the idea of having a cheeseburger inside a cream-filled donut was something fascinating to a lot of people.”
Yarmouth’s 2023 menu allows fans to try all these combinations, each costing 10 dollars a piece.
“We are redefining ‘America and Apple Pie’ to ‘Baseball and Donut Burgers’,” the team’s board said in a statement.
Phillips volunteered at Red Sox homes games for over a decade and became a treasured aspect of the fan experience.
“Burger Bob [Phillips] became one of those focal reasons fans would come to the games,” Director of Gameday Operations Elaine Lacey said.
Lacey began working on the Red Sox’s board nine years ago but attended games as a fan for over thirty summers prior.
“Burger Bob [Phillips] always had on his hat and loved interacting with the customers,” Lacey said. “The kids loved his donut burger idea and were always excited to try.”
Always seen wearing his burger hat, Phillips’ joyous aroma infected his customers. Getting people to try his creation was something he loved. Phillips often persuaded customers to make the upgrade to the donut for free and even handed out stickers to those daring enough to try.
Following the first sale, Phillips tracked every donut burger he sold until he stepped away in 2013’s summer. In that span, Phillips revealed an astonishing 8038 burgers sold.
The infamous donut burger grew so popular that baseball stadiums around the nation started selling the coveted item, including multiple Minor League Baseball stadiums.
The numbers continued rising following Phillip’s departure in 2013 until the item was discontinued eight years later due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Gary Werman attended games in Yarmouth for years before becoming a member of the grill staff in 2020. In his tenure on the grill, he hadn’t been a part of years that sold the donut burger.
“I’ve had players and fans coming up to me the past few years asking about the burger,” Werman said. “More importantly, some of them were freshmen, which means they knew about these in high school.”
Werman anticipates the donut burger’s return to create a remarkable buzz. No place on The Cape offers a more unique item, making Yarmouth’s home games an unforgettable experience, according to Werman.
In the CCBL, the players are talented and, of course, a sight. However, the Red Sox’s goal isn’t just providing a good baseball product — but also creating an enjoyable and unique fan experience.
“On the baseball field, the players are our entertainment, and the fans watching are our fans,” Werman said. “Those who come to our games are our guests; we want to treat them like no one else in the league can offer.”
Yarmouth-Dennis prides itself on providing that sense of community to The Cape, and its accolades show for it. The Red Sox have won the Paul Galop Commissioner’s Cup three-straight years, an award designated to the team portraying the highest amount of integrity and professionalism on and off the field.
“We take great pride in that award,” Izzo said. “We want to provide the best experience around.”
As the 100th season of the Cape Cod Baseball League looms, the hype around Yarmouth’s signature food grows. Fans can rekindle their relationship with the star-studded burger at the Red Sox’s home opener, on June 11.