Saturday, January 17, 2015

1943 Sunday Cubs concession sales detailed

In the "Bouncing Around With Ed Burns" column in the July 29, 1943, issue of The Sporting News, the Chicago baseball writer provided details of concession sales for a Sunday doubleheader at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and the Cardinals.

The date was June 27, and Burns said the crowd was just over 38,000. According to Wrigley Field concessions manager Ray Kneips, unit sales that day. 

  • Red Hots                 35,600
  • Peanuts, Bags           5,500
  • Popcorn, Bags           3.020
  • Soda Pop, Bottles    30,200
  • Lemonade, Glasses   5,420
  • Ice Cream, Cups      25,700
  • Beer, Bottles             32,000
  • Scorecards               11,724
  • Player Photographs   1,000 

What effect, if any, the fact that the Cubs lost both ends of the doubleheader by one run, dropping them back to last place in the National League, had on concession sales was not speculated upon.

The concessions chief reported that he employed 150 vendors to service the crowd, and went through 22,000 pounds of ice to cool the beer and soda.

As a collector, I wonder if the 1,000 "Player Photographs" sold meant a thousand 25-piece picture packs, or 40 sets of 25? I'm guessing the former. Ballpark picture packs back then sold for 50 cents per set.

Other collectible souvenirs such as pinback buttons, yearbooks and pennants weren't mentioned.

In the Aug. 19 issue of TSN, Burns followed up his original piece with some details about the vendors at Wrigley. He said that while the average vendor made $12 or so on a well-attended Sunday doubleheader, one lemonade seller's commission on the day was $50, which he said was more than the club's vice president made that day.

Burns said the successful lemonade vendor at the ballpark must have "a strong and persuasive voice, a keen eye for detecting an upraised finger, and agility in moving rapidly over the feet of the assembled patrons."

He also noted that the lemonade at Wrigley was real hand-squeezed product, "no synthetics, no bottled stuff." It sold for 20 cents a glass. Other ballpark prices were 15 cents for a hot dog (up from a dime the year before), 25 cents for a bottle of beer and 15 cents for a bottle of soda.

Note was also made of the wartime exigencies at the Wrigley concession stands. Rationing of sugar and beef had led to the suspension of sales of candy, hamburgers and roast beef sandwiches.

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