Psychologists say football brings out our basest instincts, brutal and animalistic. Historians equate the sport with ancient Rome's gladiatorial contests. Anthropologists find ritualistic behavior.
Ah, to hell with them. If you want to discover the true meaning of football in American culture, you must examine the food we eat during Super Bowl parties. So what are our favorite football foods?
Well, when it comes to football we tend to resort to bag foods, sloppy foods, foods with cheese melted all over them, or a combination of all three. "Nachos," says Lisa Lemoine, affirming the last option. "If I'm watching the Super Bowl I want nachos, hot dogs, meatballs, and all those guy foods." On this manliest of days our favorites include chili, pizza, wings, and big bags of chips. In fact, in an informal Burning Question survey, nine out of 10 respondents mentioned chips and dip as a favorite football food.
"I prefer chips and dip, little smokies, and other finger foods--nothing fancy," says Michael Chatham. "I kind of like everything," Phillip Owens states greedily, "and I'll take my hosts a bag of chips or something." Owens sounds like a model guest. "Chips and dip--and a lot of alcohol," adds Christa Pittman.
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Yes, there's something about football that brings out the slurring, shouting lush in all of us. "I usually don't eat," says Kevin Miller. "I usually just drink beer. You don't take time to cook--it cuts into football time." And football time is drinking time; as Chris Rakowitz explains, "What else do you eat at parties but beer?"
OK, a few people deviate from nachos and chips. Pizza restaurants dish out more than 12 million pies--and who knows how many CinnaStix--on Super Sunday. Phyllis Bray makes chili with Velveeta cheese--or Cheez Whiz for more important guests. ("It's even better than Velveeta because it's already runny," she points out.) Other people get downright weird. "We usually make fruit and fruit dip," says Wendi Kavanaugh. "It has cream cheese and other fattening stuff in it."
So our favorite football foods are beer, chips, nachos, pizza, and the occasional fruit salad: noisy foods, sloppy foods, foods we eat with our hands while a barbaric ritual plays out on the field before us.
Perhaps the scholars know their stuff after all.