Sports are a real-life Hunger Games.

As sports-obsessed Americans’ waistlines continue to expand in the blink of a Formula One race car turning a corner, the only thing we relish more than ice cream sundaes are NFL Sundays. Yes, food and sports go together, as “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” reminds us, like peanuts and Cracker Jack. Perhaps that’s why the two most American things are apple pie and baseball or why Thanksgiving is so synonymous with football.

From home plate to the dinner plate, five-tool players to five-course meals, Maple Leafs to maple syrup, Denver Nuggets to chicken nuggets, the Super Bowl to the salad bowl, sports and cuisine are intertwined like stitching on a baseball. It doesn’t matter if you cheered on Arnold Palmer or love to drink one, the two are symbiotic. The phrase “meal ticket” combines the need for sustenance and our ability to get into games. Think about it: the two times we’re most concerned with our seats are when we go to a restaurant and when we’re seeing our favorite teams play.

Whether it’s Meadowlark Lemon or Bob Lemon, Deron Cherry or Don Cherry, fans come out to fruit, fruit, fruit for the home team.

The Minnesota Twins are affectionately known as the “Twinkies,” the Minnesota Vikings once had a feared defense labeled the “Purple People Eaters,” which is nowhere near the only team moniker to embrace the concept of eating. The UC Banana Slugs don’t sound too mouth-watering, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are doing what they can to get food to your table, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and Montgomery Biscuits are minor league baseball teams with serious appetites and the Syracuse Orange is named for the fruit most associated with youth soccer, which is the only sport that has international friendlies, which are not to be confused with Friendly’s.

In an homage to baseball – or perhaps golf and tennis -- Denny’s has the Grand Slam, while major league batters step up to the dish as umpire Jerry Meals gets set to call the action.

Golf is a good walk spoiled and so is your milk if you let it go past its past expiration date. You need to eat your greens to stay healthy, while you long to reach the greens in golf, or what is also known as the links, a not-so-subtle reminder you may have a hankering for sausage.

And though Wayne Gretzky will never be mistaken for the Grape One, many athletes and coaches have nicknames associated with food. Bill Parcells is "Tuna," Vinnie Johnson was “The Microwave,” William Perry was “The Refrigerator,” Darryl Dawkins was “Chocolate Thunder,” Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were known as the M&M Boys and Reggie Jackson infamously said he was "the straw that stirred the drink.”

Players take shots, there’s a draft, the Brewers are practically telling you to throw back a cold one while at the ballpark and when you’re exhausted you’re punch-drunk, to give boxers their due. And let’s not forget to raise a glass to Per Djoss – that’s “Pear Juice” – who played briefly for the New York Rangers in the early ‘90s.

You hear about teams coming back from a disastrous road trip for some home cooking and we all know Cubs fans were starving for 108 years for a World Series title, at which time teams douse themselves in champagne after tasting victory.

Is it really that much of a jump on your cable system to get from the Food Network to MLB Network to NFL Network? And whether it’s the hash mark, hash brown or Cleveland Brown, the catch of the day could be the freshest seafood or a touchdown pass that makes all the highlight shows.

There’s hi-bachi ball, the Belmont Stakes makes us long for a good T-bone and a slam Dunk-in Donuts always gets the fans on their feet, while an eggs-tra point is usually a yawning affair (but not always).

An easy fly ball is a can of corn, Marshawn Lynch gained fame for his love of Skittles, you’re hot dogging when you show off and Bill Belichick has been known to fudge the truth in the quest to win.

Alright, have we whet your appetites? Here are the athletes with the best food names.

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