Tailgating is a way of life for sports fans across the country. It’s an opportunity to honor (and establish!) those quirky team traditions, indulge in delicious game-day foods, and celebrate the camaraderie spurred by a beloved team.
Get ready—it’s game time.
Traditions from around the country
Need some inspiration for your own tailgate party? Here are some traditions found across the country.
Patriots fans in the Boston area like to treat themselves with none other than New England clam chowder, of course. Seafood is prominent in other game-day favorites such as lobster rolls, scallops and shrimp, but fans in this cold-weather region also enjoy various chili flavors, chicken wings and dips.
Not to be outdone by their rivals in Missouri, nearly every school and team in Texas can boast of having an outsized, raucous, welcoming, knock-you-over outdoor barbecue, complete with various flavors, cooking methods and cuts of meat based on region. Ambitious tailgaters will boast, with good reason, about smoking a beef brisket, though because of the time required to properly cook it (usually between 12-14 hours), pork shoulder and ribs, various sausages and chicken wings are also readily available. Serve them all with sides of baked beans, mac ‘n’ cheese and potato salad and you’ve got yourself a feast fit for fellow Longhorns, Aggies, Cowboys or Texans. Become a barbecue master with your own grill.
Are you a fan of carne or pollo asada? Then welcome to Southern California flavor, where close proximity to Mexico below has had a huge impact on local fare. Fans of the LA Chargers or USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins or LA Rams can expect to be greeted by the aromas of grilled steak or chicken, fresh guacamoles and salsas and delicious fish tacos.
No tour of tailgate food would be complete without taking a trip to the bayou in Louisiana, where fans in Baton Rouge and New Orleans are known for cooking up some of the best food in the country. Gumbo? Check. Shrimp Po’ Boy? Check. Red beans and rice? Yes, please! Throw in some jambalaya, a muffaletta sandwich and a fresh, sugary beignet, and you may not even care if you make it inside for the game.
Maybe you don’t like seafood; maybe you’re a fan from the Midwest who prefers some Midwest food. Meet the fans of Cincinnati’s Bengals and Bearcats, who have their own style of chili that will make you rethink your conception of the dish. Almost always flavored with cinnamon and possibly-but-not-explicitly unsweetened chocolate, Cincinnati chili is more accurately a meat sauce that’s rarely, if ever, served alone. Instead, choose your way: two-way (spaghetti topped with chili), three-way (spaghetti, chili and cheese), four-way (three-way, with either onions or beans added) or five-way (three-way with onions AND beans). Finally, locals like to make a variation on the Coney Island chili dog called a Cheese Coney—a hot dog, topped with chili and copious amounts of cheddar cheese. Cook up your favorite chili in a slow cooker.