Monday marks the return of Twins baseball and an all-star at Target Field: Hot Dog Mark, who’s been slinging franks to fans since 1980.
The 51-year-old Minnetonka man, whose real name is Mark Carlson, has been hawking hot dogs and more so long, he can say he’s pitched his products at all three Twins ballparks.
“I got started because my older brother had gotten a job at Met Stadium,” Carlson said. “He thought I should work there, too, and I thought it was a great idea.”
In fact, he skipped school to work his first vending gig, the Twins’ 1980 home opener.
He’s been hooked ever since.
“The excitement of the fans, the excitement of being outdoors, there’s nothing like it,” said Carlson, who owns a window-cleaning business for his day job.
“I can be silly and I can just have fun, and I don’t have to worry so much about the stresses of the world. I can just enjoy myself and be creative. I think that’s a real great pleasure for me.”
Sometimes when he’s working the crowd, instead of just yelling out, “Hot dogs!” he’ll instead shout, “Let’s eat!” or “Mustard!”
“You gotta do little things to get people’s attention,” he said.
That includes modifying his uniform, swapping the basic red cap for a snazzy chef’s hat, to better fit his cheerful personality.
For Carlson, each order is a performance. He’ll whip out wrappers, swing his tongs around his fingers and squirt ketchup and mustard from overhead.