January 31, 2014
Hey sports fans, it’s time for the Super Bowl, and we all know what that means…snacks. Yeah, I know the game is supposed to be the big thing, but unless you live in Seattle or Denver, or have wagered more than you should with “Big Mike”, is anyone living or dying over the outcome of this thing? A player was once asked what it felt like to play in the “ultimate game” to which he responded, “If it’s the ultimate game how come they’re playing it again next year?” My sentiments exactly. For most of us this coming Sunday, the outcome is purely secondary to the plethora of treats that we will consume from the start of the pre-game festivities to the final gun, and we need to be ready if we are going to rise to the challenge of our own personal version of the big game.
When a team is struggling you will often hear the coach say that they need to get back to basics, and from a snack perspective this means chips. While they may not be as fancy as a cocktail wienie wrapped in a crescent role, I think that we can all agree that their ubiquitous nature at any Super Bowl party makes them the foundation for the success for the epicurean portion of the gathering. While its really hard to go wrong with any selection from the chip family, potato, tortilla, or Fritos—feel free to mix it up– there are a few considerations that do need to be addressed to ensure your selections are equal the challenge of being the go to consumable at this pinnacle moment of the season. (Note: Crackers can also be acceptable here. Mrs. Crosby makes a sensational spinach dip that goes well with Triscuits). First, go with the major brands and leave the low calorie versions on the shelf. Sure the generic brands might be cheaper, and the wife’s on a diet, but what you may save in cost and caloric counts is going to be lost in flavor and these trade-offs will be detrimental to your game watching experience. Two, select the right chip for the job. If you’re serving a dip with some substance, French onion for example, you want a chip that isn’t going deteriorate on impact or snap at the big moment. This cautionary note is particularly true if you’re serving salsa. I personally recommended those Tostito’s Scoop tortilla chips, they hold their contents well and also guard against spillage—no one wants to undergo the humiliation of sitting through the game with schmutz all over their Peyton Manning jersey. Finally, don’t let your chip selection detract from the game. I’ve always found those blue corn chips to be somewhat pretentious and I think the average Super Bowl viewer does to.
While chips lay the foundation for a Super Bowl smorgasbord, it’s the personalization of the associated snacks that really can make or break your big game enjoyment. Nowadays planning and preparing for this portion of the menu is much easier than it used to be. My aunt used to slave for hours preparing her 7-layer dip—I love that stuff—but now you can pick up a package in the frozen food aisle at your local mega mart. While some may view this reliance on the pre-packaged fancy snack as sacrilege—my marketing guy says he wouldn’t think of it and carefully prepares his “little pizzas” by hand—I think these leaps in food processing technology have opened whole new vistas for us. Want some potato skins to get you through the first quarter? No problem. Stuffed mushrooms or those little quiches—say what you want about their reflection on manhood, those things are good—all become easily integrated components of your game day fare. Of course, for your guys who want to do it up old school with some grilled brats or Hebrew National’s finest, some things are just timeless and kudos to you for bringing the tailgate into your rec room.
The key to success for either the Broncos or Seahawks on Sunday will be their game strategy and you should have one for your snack consumption as well. Lord help the over enthusiastic fan who hits the chicken wings hard in the first quarter and spends the rest of the game asking if anyone has any Tums. I myself like to use more of a grazing approach when the big day arrives. Start out with a light sampling of the offered wares. This is often a good time to hit the vegetable plate. This serves two purposes: one, you don’t look like a pig, and two, you can use your carrot and celery consumption to rationalize the preponderance of your less healthy choices later. As the game progresses, I gradually build up to a snack crescendo that coincides with halftime—Bruno Mars, really?—and then wait until the fourth quarter to make a tasteful appearance at the dessert table. Oooh, brownies.
Some have come to view the Super Bowl as an American holiday on par with Halloween or Thanksgiving. This might be going a bit too far, but it undeniably offers something for everyone. The serious fan watches for the game itself, the more casual observer may find the commercials or the halftime gala more to their liking. But I think I speak for all of us when I say that while the reasons for tuning in to the game may be as varied as the 50 million or so watching, our love of snacks is universal. So best of luck to both teams, and please pass the chips.