Tips For Throwing A Tailgating Party
When most people hear it’s the most wonderful time of the year, they think of Christmas. For others, it means something else entirely: football season! In fact, nearly 37 percent of surveyed sports fans said their favorite sport to watch was football. That means it’s also the ideal time to perfect your tailgating game, because what goes better with football than winning food combinations?
Even if you don’t enjoy watching sports, everyone can agree that tailgating is a favorite sports-related pastime, and everyone loves a good barbecue. Here are some tailgating tips and tricks to teach you how to throw a tailgate party that people will be talking about until next football season, along with some fun facts about the history of tailgating.
The First Tailgate
No one knows precisely where the idea of tailgating came from, but there are three prevailing theories about the origin of the concept.
The first theory dates back to the first college football game between New Jersey and Rutgers in 1869, where fans and spectators grilled sausages before the game on the “tail end” of their horse-drawn carriages. It wasn’t called tailgating back then, though.
The second theory comes from Yale’s first football game in 1872, when hordes of hungry fans brought food and drinks with them to the game. This also ties into the epic rivalry between Yale and Harvard that dates back almost as long.
The term tailgating is thought to have been coined in 1919 by Green Bay Packers fans. At the time, fans could back their trucks up to the field to watch the players, and for seating, they would fold down their tailgates.
No matter which theory is true, one thing remains the same: Tailgating has become synonymous with football and other sporting events. Even if you don’t go to the game, throwing a party at home to watch still counts as tailgating.
The Most Popular Tailgating Foods
What are some of the most popular tailgate foods? How often can you expect to see them at your neighborhood tailgate party?
Potato chips show up a whopping 73 percent of the time. Burgers are a close second, making an appearance at 72 percent of tailgate parties. Hot dogs come in third — these easy-to-cook links show up at roughly 62 percent of tailgate parties. Sausages and bratwursts also make an appearance at roughly 59 percent of parties.
While you can’t go wrong with these tailgate staples, there’s no reason you need to restrict yourself to grilled foods for your at-home tailgate parties. Try a few of these awesome variations, including:
- Chili: Whether you use ground beef, chicken, turkey, sausage or anything in between, it’s easy to whip up a chili that even the pickiest eater will enjoy. As a bonus, you can spread some on your hot dogs and turn them into chili dogs.
- Mac and Cheese: Who doesn’t love a full plate of mac and cheese? This can even be a stadium-side treat — simply prepare it at home in a foil pan, wrap it up and drop it on the grill when you’re waiting for the game to start.
- Walking Tacos: These are gaining popularity, and not just for tailgating. Pop open a snack-sized bag of Fritos or Doritos, add your favorite taco fillings and enjoy with a fork, without the mess.
- Chicken Wings: You can’t have a good tailgate party without chicken wings. You can grill them, smoke them or roast them. Toss them in your favorite sauce and make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins and ranch or blue cheese dressing on hand for dipping.
Tips for Throwing a Tailgating Party
Start with your prep — you don’t want to be running around like a headless chicken trying to get everything ready on game day. Most of your food, even the stuff that will be cooked the day of, can be prepped the night before. Get your burgers, kabobs, veggies and brats ready to serve. Brats can be boiled in beer and onions the night before and packed up to grill the next day.
Next, think about packing. A picnic basket or a toolbox can be useful to organize all your tailgate essentials, including cooking utensils, toiletries like trash bags and napkins, and condiments all in one place. Instead of buying ice packs or ice, freeze a bunch of water bottles — they’ll work just as well to keep your food cold, and when they thaw, you can drink them.
Finally, the part everyone has been waiting for — the cooking! If you’re making the trip to an early-morning game, bring along a griddle pan and cook up some eggs, bacon or pancakes. For cold-weather games, a crockpot can be a useful tool to keep things like chili warm.
Tailgates are fun, whether you’re throwing them at the game or at home. Now you’ve got some interesting tailgating facts to share at your next party, along with a few tips and tricks to make it one that everyone will remember.