By @pay_heed, (contributor and Jayhawk Talk Cabana owner)
It is now September. We are only days from the beginning of football season. And with football season comes tailgating. You probably think your tailgate is awesome. You’re probably right because all tailgates are generally awesome. However, I’m here to help you try to make it even more awesome this season.
At the University of Kansas, we have to make the best of our unique tailgating situation. Finding your spot is the first key to a successful tailgating season. I’m a proponent of always tailgating in the same spot, so find that special place and make it your own. It’s good to have familiar surroundings on Game Day, and your buddies will always be able to find you. Also, if you have too many adult beverages, you always know where to stumble back to find your ride home.
Now that you have your spot on lock, let’s talk supplies. If you want to look like a boss (who am I kidding you want to look like a boss) get team-themed gear for your tailgate.
If you already have gear and it’s not team themed, no sweat; just get some of those Jayhawk stickers and put them on your cooler. The more Jayhawks, the better. People need to know.
Having a portable grill is crucial to the success of any tailgate. If you don’t own a portable grill, the end of summer is a good time to buy one as grills will be going on sale everywhere at the end of August/early September. Coleman and Weber each make portable propane grills for under $200. Both are perfect for your tailgating experience. I suggest propane over charcoal because you don’t want to wait 20 minutes for the coals to get hot. On the same note, ALWAYS have an extra propane bottle, because no one wants to eat raw food. However, if you’re a college student (or anyone) on a budget, charcoal grills are cheaper, so go with what suits you best.
Having a folding table is also a good idea. Give yourself some space to set up and lay all your food and gear out. Otherwise you’ll always be rooting around in the back of your car to find things.
Being prepared for weather conditions is also key. As the Jayhawk Talk tailgating crew found out last year against Oklahoma State on “Get wet with Weis” day, having a tent could be very beneficial (we didn’t).
This season we opted for a tent. No more raining on our parade. But if you’re tough and badass and don’t care about a little rain, you can do without.
Now that we have our spot and our gear, it’s time to talk food and beverage. In this regard, preparation is critical. I recommend procuring all your necessary items before the day of the game, especially if it’s an early kick off. Nothing says amateur hour like showing up late because you had to run to Hy-Vee. Planning ahead will also provide you the opportunity to do some prep work in the kitchen instead of a back yard. This is especially handy if you need to cut stuff up or need to do something ahead of time like brown meat so all you need to do is reheat it.
Here are some Dos and Don’ts for your tailgate food this season:
- Sometimes have a theme for your tailgate like “Bloody Mary’s and Bacon.” What? Themes are cool!
- Make something unconventional for your main course (We made pizzas last year and it was awesome).
- Have extra food. Running out of stuff is lame. If you have too much, share. People will like you for it.
- Have options, not everyone likes the same things.
Side note: Please do not have a theme for a tailgate like ‘Kegs and Eggs’ if you will not being having both kegs and eggs.
- Make the same food every week.
- Run out of beer.
- Share with opposing fans. Tell those losers where to go (Hell).
- Forget to turn off your grill. That’s how fires start.
Here are some ideas for less conventional tailgating fare:
- Beermosas- Like a mimosa, just replace champagne with beer (trust me, it’s good).
- Pancakes- definitely a solid 11am kickoff choice
- Stuffed Peppers (I recommend browning the meat beforehand)
- Skewers- nothing says America like meat on a stick
- Tacos- again, prepping ahead of time so all you have to do is reheat the meat is your best bet
- Meatballs –no explanation necessary
- Anything that involves bacon
Obviously this list is not exhaustive, but it should get you well on your way to impressing your friends this season with your tailgating skills. Just don’t be the guy who only shows up with one tiny deal of macaroni salad. No one likes that guy.
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