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Top 10 Tailgate Food Ideas

Penn State Tailgate

Football weekends in Happy Valley are in full swing. Students, parents, and alumni swarm the parking lots around Beaver Stadium hours before the game for the customary tailgate.

Alcohol is a fixture here. Lawn and drinking games are a staple. Some groups put up tents for shade while others bring piles of electronics so they can blare some tunes.

And then, there’s the food. Tables are covered with snack food galore. Portable grills cook all kinds of tailgate delicacies: burgers, hot dogs, and sausages. It is the closest place to heaven for food-enthused football fans.

If you’ve been to multiple tailgates, then you know that it is an evolutionary art-form. There’s always something unique to every tailgate, and if you’re not thinking about how to improve your spread for next time you could be left in the dust. Here’s a few food ideas to rejuveinate any tailgate:

10. Make Your Own Grilled Cheese

It’s a lunchtime classic, but when you bring it to the tailgate you have to go big. Experiment with the bread and the cheese. Pack some of your favorite meats and giddyup.

9. Creamery Ice Cream

If you have the means (aka an RV with a freezer), you would certainly be the talk around the lots if you had some ice cream. And since you’re at Penn State, why not get your dessert from the Creamery? It just makes so much sense.

8. Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Where there is football and beer, there is also a variety of buffalo chicken dishes. So why not combine that with a little pasta salad, another tailgate staple?

7. Nachos

Maybe it’s too messy, but I’m an optimist. If you’re committed to the tailgate, then you can find a way to spice it up with some nachos. They can be as basic as cheese nahos and as complex as chicken bacon nachos (those words come off the tongue nicely). Have everything measured and ready to go when you get there.

6. Chili

It’s beginning to cool down a bit, and chili can be an exceptional dish to serve when the temperature starts to drop. This is something that you’ll want to have pre-made so you can just heat it up during your festivities. There’s always room for creativity with chili.

5. Anything Deep Fried

People who bring deep friers to tailgates should be considered for sainthood. They are a lot of work, but the reward is unquestionable. Wings, potatoes, pickles, and Oreos are all options.

4. Dips on Dips on Dips

The variations for these are endless. Realistically, take any number of your favorite meals and there’s probably a dip dedicated to it. One of my new favorites is jalapeno popper dip. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.

3. Breakfast Casserole

You always have to be thinking about breakfast when you’re a serious tailgater. Eggs are the easiest option to make on site, but if you want a little more variety, try preparing a casserole on Friday. They’re delicious and they’ll keep your neighbors guessing.

2. Juicy Lucy

For those of you who watch Man v. Food, you’ll remember how much you drooled over this one. The basic premise is to put cheese in between some ground beef and pinch the ends. The cheese will melt into the burger and give it a whole new flavor. Not too much of a hassle either.

1. Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls

Yes, they do exist. And they are delicious. It’s certainly not the easiest dish to make, but it’s worth it. Now wipe the drool from your face.

These are just a few suggestions. What’s your favorite food to munch on at a tailgate?


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About the Author

Shawn Christ

I am a junior majoring in print journalism. I am American. I am a Lion.

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