Most red-blooded Americans are gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday this week, taking part in the annual tradition of gathering with friends and family to watch the penultimate game of the NFL season.
Odds are good that food and beverages will be served during the game if you're heading to or hosting a party, and unless you've got unlimited pockets, the chances are good that the food served during Super Bowl XLVII will be on the lighter side.
Super Bowl parties have become spectacles of some sort over the years, with friends and neighbors constantly trying to one-up each other when it comes to providing the best experience to watch the game and enjoy oneself.
The Huffington Post has an interesting piece on creating a Super Bowl stadium with your snacks—something you should definitely check out if you're trying to take it to the next level and best your friend's party from last year.
I'm always reminded of the old CBS sitcom King of Queens when I think about Super Bowl parties. There's an episode where Doug (the title character played by Kevin James) goes to great lengths to convince 25-plus people that his house is the place to be when it comes to SB parties.
His television ends up not working, the food isn't what he asked his wife to pick up from the store and a fellow character finds his children in the garage (the "haunted house" Doug promised) playing with jumper cables and wrenches.
To avoid having the same outcome at your party, snacks are going to need to be plentiful and, most importantly, tasty. According to Ben Maller of NBC Sports Network, Americans nearly double their consumption of snacks on Sunday, and it's a staggering amount:
Ben Maller @benmaller
Americans double their average daily consumption of snacks on Super Bowl Sunday, consuming more than 33 mil pounds of grub in one day.2013-1-29 02:30:32
Most people hosting a party know the basics of gathering the right kind of food. For those first-timers, people getting back into hosting after an absence or even those scatterbrained enough to need to see things two or three times, here's a look at some snacks you have to have on your table around 30 minutes prior to kickoff.
As you start making plans to head to the nearest grocery store in preparation for the Feb. 3 showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, remember to keep these snacks in mind—your party won't be the same without them.
Doritos have managed to make their way into many parties over the years—especially the last 10 or so—and part of that has to do with the popularity the brand finds with its Super Bowl commercial space.
From the original flavor to Cool Ranch, Doritos has a comfortable following and will find itself all over party scenes—even ones not associated with the Super Bowl. From birthday parties to graduation ones, Doritos usually make an appearance because of convenience and the fact that at least one person will like eating them.
Additionally, with the Super Bowl ad space prepared to showcase Doritos favorably yet again, not having them at the party might make people's sub-conscience a little upset because that craving won't be quenched.
As a cheap alternative to off-brand chips or traditional brands, Doritos are usually a hit. There's different flavors to mix it up and they'll be all over the television during the game.
If chips are going to be served, then a good dip is a great complementary piece to the dish.
Guacamole is probably the most popular dip, but you can't go wrong with a salsa, some queso or a mixture of something that combines two different sides of taste buds.
FoodNetwork.com has a great look at 50 Super Bowl snacks you should consider making, and the first 10 or so deal directly with dips to help make the chips taste a little better (or more fattening, considering your perspective).
Either way, a good dip can both hide a chip that folks don't like or make a great chip even better.
A good rule of thumb could be to have one dip you know most people will like, and then get creative with another one that you either haven't tried or that you are unsure will stick with the crowd. Dips aren't a flashy component to the table, but they can make or break a good spread.
Buffalo, spicy, BBQ, whatever your preference is, make sure you have chicken wings on hand at your party.
According to a report by Dan Charles of NPR, chicken wings are the big seller leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, so you better make sure you buy out your local poultry section in the next couple of days. Here's an excerpt from the NPR piece:
According to the 2013 Wing Report, Americans will eat 1.23 billion wings next weekend. If laid out end to end, they would "stretch from Candlestick Park in San Francisco to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore 27 times."
Wings are a popular item because they are right in the middle of the snack/main course barrier and they run more on the cheap side than burgers or more gourmet meat will.
Throw in a great dipping sauce (ranch, blue cheese) to the mix and enjoy! Of course, these will likely be the messiest snack of your pallet, so make sure to pick up some heavy duty napkins or wet wipes to make sure your furniture and carpet don't take a beating the morning after.
Regular pizza is good too, but if you're going for the straight snack feel to your party, pizza bites are a great way to get the feel of a full pizza without all the work or the boxes of cardboard to dispose of the next day.
There are frozen options that can be purchased at the store that work just fine, but there are also homemade recipes that make for a realer feel to the snacks. The Cooking Channel has a great recipe here you can follow. It requires a little bit of prep work, but it's certainly worth the wait.
Pizza has been a quick, easy staple of parties since chains began popping up in the late half of the 20th century. Adding pizza to your party is the perfect idea, and even smarter if you can condense the amount of trash and space it takes to make something similar in nature.
With pizza, chips and wings, your party is off to a great start. The basics are the most important thing, so after those are completed, spice things up! Good parties are made, not born, so get creative with the rest of your menu.
Let's be honest, as long as the TV is on and the team of choice is ahead, the guest will appreciate your hard work to make Super Bowl 2013 weekend the best they've ever had.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.