Hot Dog! The Harry M. Stevens Concession Experience exhibition opens Jan. 10
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will open a new exhibition, Hot Dog! The Harry M. Stevens Concessions Experience, in the Link Gallery on Jan. 10. The exhibit focuses predominantly on Harry M. Stevens concessions at racetracks in the first half of the 20th century and features historic photographs, drawings, dinnerware, advertising, and a painting. The exhibition was made possible by generous loans from Mary Jane Hunt, horsefeathers!, the Harry M. Stevens Family Foundation, Inc., and Ken Grayson.
Harry Mozley Stevens was born in London, England, in 1855. He moved to the United States in 1882 and settled his family in Niles, Ohio. Out of work because of a steel mill strike, Stevens became a traveling book salesman. While in Columbus, Ohio, he attended his first baseball game in 1887 and identified the need to clearly identify players. He obtained permission from the team’s owner to produce and sell an improved scorecard. Inspired by this early success, Stevens expanded the business to include food and drink concessions.
Harry M. Stevens catered to 20 racetracks throughout the country, including Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Hialeah Park, Pimlico Race Course, and Saratoga Race Course. “From the Hudson to the Rio Grande” became the company’s slogan after opening concessions at the racetrack in Juarez, Mexico. As an industry pioneer, some credit him for innovations such as the introduction of straws for soda bottles and the hot dog. Stevens died in 1934, leaving the growing business to his sons. At the time Aramark purchased the company in 1994, it still operated food and drink concessions at some of the nation’s largest sporting venues.
“This exhibition brings one of the most central racetrack experiences — the food and the drink — to the Museum in a new and engaging way,” said Jessica Cloer, the Museum’s curator. “As you look at the photographs, you can almost hear the food vendors calling out as a crowd gathers for the races.”
For more information about the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, including upcoming events, please visit www.racingmuseum.org or call (518) 584-0400.