The science behind the Phanatic's hot dog cannon malfunction

March 8th, 2023

The Phillie Phanatic has many trademarks, from its lightning-fast tongue to causing mayhem in the broadcast booth to taunting members of the opposing team, but perhaps none is more well-known than its famous hot dog cannon. While other mascots settle for firing off T-shirts into the crowd, the Phanatic generally prefers more caloric cannon fodder.

So you can understand how the crowd at BayCare Park was excited when the Phanatic wheeled out its ATV-mounted frankfurter firer amid a break in the action during Tuesday's Rays-Phillies game. But that excitement turned to audible disappointment when the second hot dog out of the chute popped out not with a bang, but with a whimper, barely clearing the vehicle before landing harmlessly on the grass.

That would normally be the end of the story, but luckily's intrepid Phillies beat reporter, Todd Zolecki, did some more digging and unearthed the reason behind the malfunction. Not to get too scientific, but the Phanatic's cannon is of the pneumatic variety, meaning it operates via compressed air. If a hot dog's foil is too tightly wrapped, it can allow too much air to escape around it in the barrel, resulting in weak launches. For an optimal arc into the stands, you want a more loosely wrapped projectile.

A little look behind the curtain -- or perhaps, behind the foil -- at the physics behind the Phanatic.