If you are a native of Cleveland, or have even lived here for a decent length of time, we’re relatively certain you have either participated in or overheard a debate over just who is Cleveland’s one true mustard: Bertman's Original Ball Park Mustard or Stadium Mustard.
The debate becomes a little more difficult when both can lay claim to one of Cleveland’s sport teams as their official mustard. FirstEnergy Stadium’s official mustard is Stadium Mustard, which also has the distinction of having been served to astronauts on the Space Shuttle.
Bertman continues to be the official mustard of Cleveland baseball, still being served at Progressive Field today as well as having been served for many years at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
With both mustards having rich locally-based traditions, and most informal taste tests usually being too close to call, we’ll lay out a few facts about both and then you can let your taste buds weigh in.
Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard
Bertman was founded in 1920 by Joseph Bertman, a Polish immigrant who started the company out of a garage at E. 147th and Kinsman. The firm relocated within the area in the 1930s and while known as the Bertman Pickle Company, their best known product was - you guessed it - their mustard.
Bertman constantly tried to fulfill customer product requests, and legend has it that the mustard recipe that exists today was the result of Bertman trying to satisfy one of those requests.
It is thought that Bertman had its beginning at Municipal Stadium, but there are those that insist it was also served at old League Park.
Fun fact: The mustard was only sold in gallon containers up until the 1970s, when the small household size was added so it could be sold in stores.
Most taste-testers feel that Stadium Mustard, which is sold in 150+ stadiums around the country, is more on the spicier side.
The late David Dwoskin, who was the president of the Davis Foods Company and a longtime Cleveland-area resident, had fond memories of his first experience with Stadium Mustard when his father took him to a ballgame at Cleveland Stadium and he tasted the delicious mustard.
Dwoskin gave it the catchy official name - The Authentic Stadium Mustard - and made it available to be sold in grocery stores as well as specialty food stores all over town where many a visitor to the city grabbed a container to bring home as souvenir of their trip.
Fun fact: It is said that the Stadium Mustard recipe has been sold since the 1800s.
So while neither mustard purveyor admits to a “mustard war” of any kind, I’m sure both would be willing to admit that the ongoing debate and the free publicity that comes with it are very good for business.
At the end of the day, as with most things in life, it comes down to personal preference, so we guess it’s safe to say that the debate may very well continue for generations to come.