I would challenge anyone to remember a bad time they had tailgating.  It’s likely they can’t remember a bad time because they simply forgot due to extenuating circumstances such as ice cold Busch Light.    I don’t remember all my tailgating experiences or the football games (Thanks Purdue Breakfast club) but what I can, was wonderful in large part due to the food.  Food is one of the essentials of tailgating along with friends for Gamecocks games here in  lovely Columbia, SC, along with crispy boys and obviously entertainment (lawn games 😉).  Lacking any of these can quickly sink the day (though obviously it can be rescued by beating Clemson).  With any good tailgate the focus will be food so we decided to put together a list of the best snacks and food for tailgates everywhere.

  1.  Grilled meat – This will encompass the large portion of what we have come to associate with tailgating food.  This includes staples such as hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, pork chops, chicken wings and ribs.  Many people simply arrive a couple hours early, throw a few things on the grill and down 15 Keystones.  Other carefully prepare ribs, brisket and various smoked meats.  
  1. Chips and queso – Again, these encompass a wide variety of different quesos.  For those in the southwest you’re going to make sure there are chilis and spices and more chilis and spices.  For those in the Northeast, you’re going to have it bland just like your college football teams.  
  1. Chili – This is should a solid at room temperature.  Don’t get cute and put turkey in it and don’t make it “white”.  That’s stupid, think wolf chili but more meat, more types of meat and maybe double the sodium.  When it’s November in Wisconsin, you can’t feel your fingers and the quarterback is about to go 2-6 for 18 yard, a good old fashioned chili will hit the spot.  Don’t skimp on polish sausage and remember: onions, bell peppers, jalapenos and tomatoes are acceptable but try to make it about anything but the meat.
  1. Salad – Just kidding
  1. Jalapeno poppers of any sort –  Do you want to cut them in half and fill them with cream cheese, more cheese and maybe some bacon bits?  Do you want to just fry them while they’re stuffed with bacon, cream cheese and various other cheeses?  Do you want to fill them with either meat or cheese or neither?  Jalapenos are one of the greatest food vessels this world has ever known along with tortillas and bread bowls so the possibilities are endless.  These specifically are prepared ahead of time and are an excellent food to eat while the other food is cooking.  Plus the jalapenos apparently contain some sort of fibrous that aids in digestion.
  1. Dessert – I would go for the easy chocolate chip cookies or brownies.  No one will complain and they’re easy to make. You’re at a football game, not a wedding.  If you want to have a bit more spunk when you’re making the desert then go with no bake cookies.  They work great hot or cold and they’re pretty easy. But, If I were making desert?  I’d make a carrot cake because I love carrot cake and if other people don’t then I get to eat more so a simple decision.
  1. Bonus – Buffalo chicken dip.  If I had one thing left to eat the rest of my life, it would be buffalo chicken dip.  People always ask the recipe and it’s just on the back of the Frank’s RedHot bottle.  Imagine getting the excellent taste of Frank’s but it’s not hot enough to cause any complaining from children or soft adults.  It also combines some of our favorite things in abundance: Cream cheese, more cheese of your choosing and ranch; also chicken too.  It’s pretty simple to make in a crock pot and it’s delicious but you have to shred the chicken which is annoying.

I hope you’ve gleaned something from this guide, and it ushers you on your way to fun sports games, concerts and Bar Mitzvahs.   I consider it basically the de facto guide to tailgating food and life for that matter.  If anyone disagrees with this, they’re probably wrong.