CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — It’s a little bit different, nowadays, when Jonah Fialkow goes to Wrigley Field. Fialkow — a lifelong Cubs fan who has worked as a Wrigley Field vendor since 2015 — has a good chance of getting stopped before he gets inside the stadium.
“Personally, I can’t go to Wrigley without getting recognized a dozen times,” he said.
That’s because, since March 2023, Fialkow has been reaching thousands of people on TikTok and Instagram with his videos that highlight the people who hawk hot dogs, beer and much more inside one of America’s most iconic ballparks.
The account is @JewishJonah, and on TikTok he has nearly 20,000 followers, while about half as many accounts follow him on Instagram. The goal, Fialkow said, is to strengthen connections between Cubs fans and the vendors.
“It’s really starting to create this community where we’re not just the people who bring you food, but it’s as if you were season-ticket holders and we’ve known you for three decades,” he said. “I’m really trying to kind of speed that along and facilitate those relationships between the fans and vending and give people an inside look into a job that I love.”
Fialkow’s not the only one getting recognized as a result of his TikToks. After videos like his "Then-and-Now” posts — which play a montage of older and current photos of vendors who have been there for decades — he said some of Wrigley’s most senior vendors getting recognized by a new group of fans.
Some of the posts are a little goofier. In one, Wrigley Field vendors go one after another and give their “best hot dog calls.” Fialkow also posts “Day-in-the-Life” TikToks after each game he works that give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into working at Wrigley Field. He said he was inspired to do these posts after finding a book called “Wrigley Field's Amazing Vendors.”
“It has all these unbelievable photos of these guys from 30, 40 years ago when they started vending,” he said. “I just felt like, as a Cubs fan, it was kind of my duty to share their stories with people, and it’s hard to consume a physical book … I thought that shortform video might be the best way to do it.”
Unsurprisingly, Fialkow gets a lot of questions from folks who want to know more about the job. In case you’re wondering, his favorite item to sell is a frozen margarita — Fialkow said he was actually the first vendor to ever sell frozen margaritas at Wrigley Field. Vendors choose what they’re going to sell before the game, in an order determined by seniority.
After eight years, Fialkow said 75% of the vendors have more seniority than him. Although he said hot dogs are the most uncomfortable to carry, the sales from those make it a good item to sell. The most coveted position, though, is selling beer in the lower box seats.
“I’ve probably got a couple more decades before I’ll start to be able to sell there,” he said.
As for how many steps he might do in a single game, it varies, but he said it ranges from 8,000–9,000 steps per game.
“On Opening Day, I was doing mobile delivery orders — you can order to your seat now, it’s kind of like Uber Eats to your seats … I was crazy busy,” he said. “I did, like, 9,000 steps and 55 floors of stairs. It’s a fabulous workout.”
Fialkow said his Cubs fandom started with his mom Sue, who would take the Skokie Swift down to the city to catch Cubs games back when she was 10 years old. Sue told WBBM she's so proud of her son for putting a spotlight on the Wrigley Field vendors.
“So much of baseball is about the actual players,” she said. “ For him to highlight the behind-the-scenes people, I think it’s great. There hasn’t been a lot of exposure for these vendors, who work really, really hard in all kinds of weather, and they show up early, and they do their thing.”
Jonah Fialkow, who works full time as the CEO of Bracketology.tv, said his parents have been supportive of him pulling the extra hours to work as a vendor at Wrigley. In 2016, he drove up from the University of Illinois on weekends and stayed at their place in order to work playoff and World Series home games.
“Working the World Series, I didn’t care what product I sold, as long as I got in the stadium and was there to just experience a World Series at home,” he said.
Even with how serious his parents take rooting for the Cubs, Fialkow said he thinks they might have been more excited for him following that legendary 2016 World Series win. He recalled talking with his dad the morning after the Cubs won.
Apparently, Fialkow’s dad tried to call him right after the game, but that didn’t quite work.
“He said he had to call me back because, for three minutes we were on the phone, and I couldn’t talk because I was just sobbing,” Fialkow said.
For someone who said their dream has been to live in Wrigleyville and work at the stadium or for the Cubs in some capacity, it sounds about right.
More stories from Fialkow about being a Wrigley Field vendor can be found on TikTok and Instagram @JewishJonah.
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