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Super Bowl 2012: Game Day Food Essentials

Veronica Werhane |
February 4, 2012 | 11:11 a.m. PST

Senior Arts Editor

You don't have to go this extreme to have a solid Super Bowl snack spread (Powerhouse Entertainment/Facebook)
You don't have to go this extreme to have a solid Super Bowl snack spread (Powerhouse Entertainment/Facebook)
As any sports fan will agree, top-notch game day food is vital to a successful Super Bowl. Super Bowl food is the very essence of the grand American event.  Without it, quite frankly, the Super Bowl just wouldn’t be the Super Bowl.

For one, the classic spread of dips, chips, munchies and hearty appetizers compliments the roughness and intensity of the game—especially if your team is losing and you need some snackage for comfort.

Second, many people don’t even watch the game.  We all have friends (or are those friends) who just watch the Super Bowl for the commercials or half time show.  There are also those who come just to eat the food.  Now some people might not like when people do this, but we should not be bitter; rather we should embrace their desire for snackage and hit them with our best recipes.

I have been to many Super Bowl parties in my time, and I’ve probably spent as much time exploring and evaluating the snack tables at each party as watching the actual game—such that I’ve discovered which foods in different snack categories make for the best Super Bowl parties.  Thus, I’ve provided a few Super Bowl essentials for the ultimate Super Bowl Party food spread.

Assortment of chips, veggies and other munchies are perfect for Game Day. (Creative Commons/Flickr)
Assortment of chips, veggies and other munchies are perfect for Game Day. (Creative Commons/Flickr)

1.  Munchy and Crunchy

A good Super Bowl snack spread should have something with sufficient crunch to provide cathartic release of nerves, anger, stress or excitement that comes with an intense football game.  Chips, pretzels, Chex Mix®, Goldfish®, Doritos® and crackers are all viable options.

Dips are solid accompaniments to crunchy finger foods like chips and are easy to serve—just stick out a jar of salsa, bowl of guac or container of store-bought French onion dip with your crunchy delights and you’ll be good to go.

There will always be people who have that admirable will power to eat healthy on game day.  A veggie tray with hummus or a bowl of unbuttered popcorn would lend itself nicely to these folks.

Wrap cocktail wienies in crescent rolls and bake. (Creative Commons/Flickr)
Wrap cocktail wienies in crescent rolls and bake. (Creative Commons/Flickr)
2. Warm, Meaty and Hearty—as manly as you can get.  The goal here is to satisfy the really hungry people who need more substance than chips or veggies to satisfy their game day appetites. Hearty is the magic word here.

Chili, for example, is a fool-proof dish.  A big ol’ pot of full-bodied chili with some shredded cheese, oyster crackers and sour cream on the side is a winner.  The great thing about chili is that it’s super easy to make and only uses one pot that can double as a serving dish.  Just stick the ladle right in there and people can prepare themselves a bowl at their leisure.  It’s also very versatile, since you can make it with greasy and satisfying ground beef, or you can go vegetarian with lots of filling beans, olives and tomatoes.  My entire family is from Wisconsin, so game day for me would be incomplete without meat.  In fact, you would be frowned upon if you tried to sneak in something leaner like ground turkey, buffalo or chicken.  But healthy substitutes—including vegetarian ones—are perfectly fine and delicious in any chili recipe.

If you don’t want to serve a meal at your party, you can also go the “heavy hors d’oeuvres” route, as I like to say. Cocktail wienies wrapped in crescent rolls to make bagel dogs are crowd-pleasers, as is a warm dip with some substance to it like spinach-artichoke.  These kinds of appetizers are also great to bring to someone else’s party if you’re not hosting one yourself.

This brings me to taco dip. My mom makes the most epic taco dip on the face of the planet and although I’ve tasted many well-played contenders, none of them are at the caliber of her taco dip. Normally I wouldn’t want to disclose the recipe for her success, but this dip is just too good to go un-tasted by so many.

Taco Dip (recipe courtesy of our family friend)

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef; browned
  • 8 oz. cream cheese; softened
  • 8 oz. red taco sauce
  • 1 package taco seasoning; low-sodium
  • 1 small can diced green chiles

Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe dish and bake at 300°F for 20 minutes.

For those who want to indulge on game day but simply cannot justify consuming the absurd amount of calories typical for Super Bowl Sunday: use ground turkey.  Like I said, my mom wouldn’t dream of driving up to Wisconsin with turkey instead of beef in her taco dip, but if she make it at home the turkey would certainly be acceptable.  As far as the cream cheese, low-fat or fat-free cream cheese tastes funky in this recipe, so I wouldn't recommend it.  Swapping the beef is the healthiest it’s gonna get.

3. Drinks.  Always have drinks of all sorts, especially beer, water and soda (diet and regular, please).  I think this tip goes without saying, but a friendly reminder never hurts.


Plan B?  Forget everything and order pizzas—big name places like Pizza Hut® and Papa John's® usually have Super Bowl specials anyway.  Problem solved, no judgment.

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