I Miss Sunflower Seeds

We’re living in unprecedented times. Sports have been gone since March and while things are looking more optimistic nationally, ESPN has resorted to airing the Korean baseball league (KBO) just to give people SOMETHING in the way of live sports. The MLB has laid out a new proposal to safely begin league play in the future, and it got me thinking on how different this spring has been without it. It’s not just watching the games – which of course everyone misses most – but everything that comes with it. Hot dogs, bratwurst, combined with a fine Anheuser-Busch product. But the coup de grace of all baseball snacks is of course: sunflower seeds.

If you ever played, that’s where it started. Nothing beats spittin’ seeds. Over the years everyone develops their own seed-spitting strategy. I, for example, didn’t even actually break open the seed in my younger years. I never knew how, but I loved the taste of the seasoning, so I basically just ate the salt off the seed and spit it out. It was pure image. Who cares about the actual seed? I just need the PONY parents and the opposing 10-year-old pitcher to see me spitting them while I was taking signs for absolutely no reason. Which brings up a side point: Why did coaches even bother with signs when kids were that young? The only ones they ever put on were the 3-0 take sign. Other than that, it was just a bunch of mumbo jumbo. I digress.

Eventually, I matured as a seed chewer and developed my own quirks, as does everyone. Some go for the giant mouthfuls; some can spit insane distances. Some go for precision, while others (usually the giant handful guys) just chew what they can and spit the rest. More of a quantity over quality approach. Regardless of how you prefer to consume your sunflower seeds, everyone develops a favorite flavor – which brings us to the main point. There’s an abundance of varying flavors and brands of sunflower seeds, and they’re wide-ranging. You can be a novice and eat the original, which is where most youngsters start out. But once you dip your toe in the water, the depths of seed types are deep. There’s BBQ, ranch, buffalo-style ranch (which is completely different), cracked pepper, sizzlin’ bacon, jalapeno salsa, nacho cheese, and the most controversial flavor of them all: dill pickle.

The brands aren’t as multiple as the flavors, but they’re all big time. For the most part you got the big four: David, BIGS, Spitz, Giants. But the diamonds in the rough can be found too at any gas station, if you’re brave enough to take the risk.

No matter the avenue you go down, once you find your favorites, you’re fiercely loyal to your flavor and brand. I myself am a David BBQ man till I die. I will always stand by it against any other seed. But they’re all delicious. I polled the experts on what makes a good sunflower seed and why their favorites stand out. The responses did not disappoint.

“It depends on the brand. With David I like jalapeno hot salsa or black pepper. But with BIGS I have to go BBQ, bacon, or dill pickle. Of course, in a pinch there’s always just OG salted too.”

“I’ve always been a proponent of the original. I’m just not a fan of any of the crazy flavors like ranch.”

“Oh yeah, I stan dill. You know me. I’m a big-time olive and pickle guy. One of my favorite tastes.”

“If I’m just going to stuff a bunch in my mouth, I’ll go original. If I’m going for pure taste, it has to be buffalo style ranch.”

As I’m now in the ‘conclusion’ portion of my research paper, the results of this were somewhat surprising. I can’t believe how many times original was mentioned. I view the original as the training wheels to seed-spitting, but as evidenced by the experts it has some staying power. It proves you don’t mess with a good thing. There were a few dill pickle lovers, and in my experience that’s the most polarizing type. I think dill is disgusting in seed form, although I love a good spear with dinner occasionally. But the people that go for dill are intense about it and defend against all haters. BBQ is usually a pretty popular one, but it wasn't mentioned much here. The one thing about the poll results that was right on par is the diversity. We had dill pickle, BBQ, buffalo style ranch, jalapeno hot salsa, bacon, and original all mentioned.

All in all, I hope this helps you spread your wings when it comes to sunflower seeds and gives you a basis upon which to explore. As much as we miss sports and baseball in particular, it's the culture I really miss - and sunflower seeds are paramount to it. The world of sunflower seeds is vast and can be overwhelming, but rest assured once you take the leap, you won’t regret it.