Photo via GeorgeFamily.net
The Super Bowl is one of America's favorite spectacles and has essentially become a national holiday.
It's an advertiser's Christmas. The halftime show becomes the year's most scrutinized concert.
And, oh yeah, there's a football game, too.
But nothing—and I repeat, nothing—is more important than the Super Bowl party you attend. And nothing—I repeat, nothing—is more important at that party than the food and beverages served.
Some folks think it is the simple matter of preparing any old food for the party. Let me stop you there—what you serve matters. There are foods that are acceptable for a Super Bowl gathering, and foods that don't belong.
So put away your meatloaf, lasagna or those stuffed peppers you are famous for, and read my guide of the 10 best Super Bowl foods instead. I'll help you prepare the perfect culinary menu for this year's party, I promise.
I know it seems terribly obvious, but no proper Super Bowl party is complete without the proper junk food to snack on.
There are two ways to approach this. The first way is to go with a variety of snacks—potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, crackers, popcorn, etc.—and a few dips here and there.
Or, you can go simply with plain potato chips or tortilla chips and include a variety of dips, such as salsa, guacamole, an aioli, hummus or my personal favorite, bacon horseradish dip.
You can mix both options as well, but it's really not necessary.
You do need some sort of variety in this department, however, as folks will be snacking throughout the entire game.
Yes, you need to include these.
At some point, we all like to mix in some healthier foods so we don't feel like complete slobs while we pig out on junk food.
I recommend including things like a vegetable platter with dip or hummus, a shrimp cocktail or even some fancier appetizers like bruschetta. It's good to have something to go along with the chips and dip to balance out the food groups.
Besides, folks like to snack throughout the game. At some point, stuffing your face full of Doritos just makes you feel like a slob (delicious as they are).
It's nice to be able to stuff your plate full of cherry tomatoes and red pepper strips in the fourth quarter as you anxiety-eat down the stretch.
Although often forgotten, it's always a good thing to have a spread composed of some ring bologna, pepperoni and various cheese options.
It may seem out of place to some, but I always dock points for a pregame spread that doesn't include such a simple yet delicious option.
Be honest—have you ever passed over snacking on some ring bologna and cheese when it was offered?
Because I haven't. So that's why I ensure it's included at every Super Bowl party.
For bonus points, wrap the dogs in some bacon.
I promise you, if you wrap them in bacon you will get looks of appreciation all evening long.
Bacon makes everything better, folks. Everything!
One way or another, these are a safe and fun finger food. Not every Super Bowl party has them, but every Super Bowl party that does is better for it.
Okay, okay, so technically it's not a food, though I would expect the average college student to disagree on that point. But trust me—a Super Bowl party without beer is like watching a football game on mute.
It just doesn't feel right.
Now, know your crowd. Some parties might be perfectly fine with Coors Lite. Other partygoers might prefer Rogue Dead Guy Ale (my type of folks right there).
But any crowd can agree—there's nothing like cracking open a beer and taking that first, long swill as the ball is kicked off.
It just feels right.
Listen carefully, folks, because I can't emphasize this enough—there is no food more essential for a Super Bowl party than wings.
When I think Super Bowl, I think buffalo wings. I would have made this the first slide, but I was trying to write this in the order you should present the food options at your party.
Obviously, you don't want to bust out the wings right away. Let people snack a little bit. But there is no better link between your basic snacking options and whatever your main course will be than a big ol' tray of buffalo wings.
Worried that you'll have a more vegetarian crowd showing up? No worries—make seitan wings. Yeah, they'll be boneless, but they're actually good. There are plenty of recipes out there, and your vegetarian friends will feel like they are being included in a classic Super Bowl tradition.
Because everyone deserves wings. Everyone.
Okay, okay, so it doesn't need to be 10 layers deep, but you need to have some sort of elaborate dip at your party that incorporates beans, cheese, cream cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, maybe salsa, perhaps guacamole—you decide.
Trust me on this—any multilayer dip is sure to be a huge hit. People literally eat this stuff up.
I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
One of the safest yet most enjoyable "entrees" at a Super Bowl party is rolling with the three-foot hoagie, or a sub, for those of you who aren't from Southeastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
Trust me, you're not going to find too many people who won't be happy with a three-foot hoagie, especially if you have a local deli nearby that knows how to properly make an Italian hoagie.
Or you could do a sandwich tray, mixing in roast beef or turkey options alongside the more traditional Italian hoagie.
Plus, most sandwich trays will come with an option to add some vegetarian sides, so you have the added bonus of being prepared to cater to the tastes of all your guests.
You may associate barbecue more with tailgating, but it's an excellent option for your Super Bowl party.
Unlike hotdogs and hamburgers (more of an option in the summer) or brats (totally a tailgating food), barbecue is versatile, pairs perfectly with football and beer and, oh yeah, it's freaking delicious.
Sure, you may not want to bust out the grill in the middle of winter, but there are ways around that. And c'mon—don't you want some pulled pork, ribs or brisket at your party?
Of course you do. Barbecue, in all of its many and wondrous varieties, is the universal football entree.
You can't go wrong here, folks.
When in doubt, make a heaping pot of chili, provide cheese, crackers, fried potatoes and hot sauce, and then watch people stuff their faces in a contented fashion.
Chili goes great with football, winter, more chili, beer, wings, Chili Davis, even more chili and probably the country of Chile. In other words, it's a versatile food that you absolutely can't go wrong with if you have it at your party.
If wings are king of the Super Bowl party, chili is like a duke, or earl, or... Wait. To hell with all of that. This is America! Chili is the Vice President of your party!
Oh, and if you have any amazing suggestions to add or delicious recipes you would like to share to improve all of our Super Bowl experiences, please leave them in the comments.
Enjoy the party, folks.