Tailgate parties – The sizzling new American tradition

I imagine myself being asked, “Would you like to eat a picnic-style meal with a few friends in a parking lot, using your vehicle as the kitchen/shelter?” My reply in this situation would be, “I believe that I would not.”

Or would I?

Well, despite my surprise at how much people might enjoy and desire to engage in such an event, they do. They do very much. Having a tailgate party, or simply “tailgating”, is born of the needs and opportunities of the moment, and has arisen through the public consciousness into the strata of culinary efforts reserved for foodies. In this way, it is much like bacon.

So to better understand the appeal, let me imagine myself being asked a different question. “Since you are attending this sporting event anyway, how would you like to bring some food and preparation gear, and enjoy an affordable, relaxed meal and drinks with friends, arriving early and avoiding some of the pre-game parking lot traffic?” To this, I would say, “I believe that I would. Should I bring my steak tongs or my barbecue tongs?”

Tailgating is big. I mean really big. And fun. So big and fun that it has borne forth the need for:

  • A sub-store on the NFL’s own site – These people know merchandising, and they’re getting in on this.
  • Hacks – Here are 41 tips that will make a tailgating schmoe into a tailgating pro.
  • Food and Wine publishing a list of – not just stadiums – entire cities that are great for tailgating. (Yes, they focus on stadiums, but they also look at how the city supports the venture.)
  • Amazon’s entire subsection of cookbooks that focus on tailgating.
  • A beer – Tailgating has its own activity-specific craft beer. That exists.
  • Specific rules, pricing, offers, etc. from almost every major stadium to attract and accommodate friendly tailgaters – Here’s the website of Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium on the subject.
  • A list of vehicles that are especially well-suited to tailgating – Spoiler: they ARE all awesome for tailgating, and they’re NOT all trucks.
  • Tailgating from the future – You know what works? A steel shipping container converted into a parking lot party headquarters. That’s what works.

People, if a newbie like me can get excited (and I am) and into tailgating, don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Get your tickets, choose your tongs and get on the road.

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