It’s game day and everything is set. The T.V. is turned to the right channel, fantasy football is good to go and there’s just one thing missing. Let’s eat!

1. Meat (ribs, burgers, pulled pork, steak, hot dogs, brats, wings, kebabs, bacon, chicken, weird vegan patties)

Yes, we’ve lumped all the good stuff into one category. It had to be done. If we were to put each meat we loved in its own spot on this list, we have no room for anything else. And we like everything else. We don’t want to eat just meat, no matter how delicious a famous 6-hour patented rub/soak extravaganza is. We need other stuff. So, we’ve stuck the ribs (with sauce so spicy it requires a dip in the lake) on the same spot in the list as the hot dogs, and the bratwursts, and the pork, and the chicken sandwiches. But, whatever meat ends up the centerpiece of the tailgate, please don’t forget the meat. Write it on the checklist. Check the checklist. Don’t leave the checklist at home.

Ham Sandwich

2. Chip Dip (and the chips to go along with it)

Chips taste delicious. They’re portable. Perfect for game day. They’re possible to eat while trash talking. What makes chips better? Chip dip so thick it breaks the chips into little tiny pieces that we try to dig out with our fingers.

3. Chili

Ok, so someone’s going to burn the chili. Or someone will say spaghetti doesn’t belong in chili. Or olives don’t belong in chili. Or someone will bring too much and try to pawn it off on unsuspecting Tupperware recipients. But, chili is a staple. And it’s a staple for a reason. It’s delicious. It’s versatile and leaves room for interpretations and regional flavors. Don’t try the old, “but we have to bring spoons and bowls if we have chili.” Look at all the stuff in the backseat!

4. Potato Salad

The classic. The necessary. The eternal debate on mayonnaise vs. mustard, vs. vinegar will live on longer than the memory of the immaculate reception. A great part about tailgating is walking around and getting a chance to peek over everyone’s shoulders and finding a new way to cook the favorites. One day we’ll will find the perfect potato salad recipe. That will be a glorious day.

5. Corn

Embrace the healthy! But make sure to soak the corn in sugar water and dunk it in butter and salt.

6. Sliders

Sliders or sandwiches cut into cute little triangles are a favorite. No one doesn’t like good stuff stuffed between more good stuff that they can eat with their fingers. Sliders are great because they’re small and handheld which is good for playing iPhone games while munching. There’s a little leeway room for creativity in sandwiches, like incorporating team colors into the tasty snacks. (hopefully not both of the Steelers colors, we’re not too sure about black foods that aren’t in the chocolate or bean family)

7. Coleslaw

The greasy food needs a counterpoint. This is it. Crisp, fresh, tangy, crunchy. And it comes in these wonderful, huge tubs that will feed a hungry army of post-workout teenage boys which is great in a time crunch.

8. Watermelon

The quintessential summer fruit is perfect for tailgating. Something about the color. Or more likely, about the presence of seeds to spit at unsuspecting passersby. But watermelon is a must.

Watermelon in a Bowl

9. Jambalaya

What? Jambalaya? Really? Yes. It’s another great – make this in a big pot and let it sit – recipes. It’s a perfect alternative to chili by adding some oomph to the spoon.

10. Cookies

Bring cookies. They even come pre-made in the shape of team’s logos. Twenty minutes after the main course is done, the sweet tooth will start talking. If cookies are too difficult buy the cupcakes with the little plastic football rings on top. It may be the closest this team will ever get to a Super Bowl ring.

Rows of Cookies

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