While the rules of the game haven't changed much in recent years, pre-game parties have evolved from burgers and beer to luxury equipment, satellite television and gourmet food.
Food & Wine magazine's editor Kevin Patricio says it has become a big business, and there is now a wide variety of products on the market designed specifically for tailgating.
Patricio stopped by The Saturday Early Show with some of the newest gear to help make the festivities a success.
Tailgating is entertaining outdoors, Patricio explains, and the following will make the party a little more enjoyable:
Patricio believes it's safer to not have a coal fire in the parking lot because when it's time to head into the stadium, you don't want to have to worry about properly extinguishing the fire. He recommends the following grills:
- Weber Q Portable Grill, $179.99
Men's Health magazine called this grill "The Tailgating King, with a nifty design just macho enough to avoid being called "cute." This propane grill can cook your meat over an open flame, and it has a cast-iron grate that is a bonus for chefs. A foldable cart can be added to the grill for an extra $50. It is available at Target.com, Weberstuff.com and Amazon.com
- Thermos Grill2Go Fire & Ice, $169.88
This grill sits on top of a 10-gallon cooler, making it easy to transport these two essential tailgating items. The grill does not involve any flame. Available at Grilllovers.com
Patricio's Grill Tip:
Remember, you are not barbecuing, which is a long, slow process - you are grilling, which means you want to prepare lean cuts of meat that are conducive to fast cooking over high, concentrated heat. Patricio says good choices to grill include sirloin, chicken breasts, pork chops and scallops.
Coolers and Drinks
In addition to the cooler/grill combo, Patricio demonstrated a variety of collapsible coolers on wheels, all by Thermos and priced from $15 to $20. He says the bodies are made of rugged nylon, and some can hold up to 60 cans. The wheels make it easy to move the cooler. It is available at Thermos.com
If you're looking to throw a stylish tailgate, Patricio also recommends filling galvanized buckets with ice to keep your beverages cool. They are available at hardware stores.
Patricio's Cooler Tips:
Use a separate cooler for drinks and food. This avoids constantly opening and closing the cooler, so your food and drinks will both stay colder. Pack what you will need first on top, and pack frozen water bottles in with the food. If you do have a charcoal fire, you can use the melted water to put out the fire.
Don't limit yourself to beverages in bottles and cans. It's also possible to make frozen drinks away from home, thanks to the Eddie Bauer Handcrank blender ($39.99). It clamps onto a table and, the manufacturer claims, crushes ice easily. Available at EddieBauer.com
You also have to figure out a way to get your meal to the game. Patricio suggests the following:
- Pyrex Portables party bowl, $24.99; casserole, $18.99
Pyrex is a brand of strong glass casserole dishes, serving bowls and more that can go in the oven, the freezer and the microwave. This particular line comes with rubber lids and thermal carrying cases to keep food hot or cold. The cases also have extra space or pockets for ice packs, serving utensils or napkins. Available at Target.com
- Eddie Bauer Stacking Rattan Baskets, $149
Patricio says this set of three large baskets (all with handles) gives you plenty of room to pack tailgating essentials. And after you've unpacked, they work perfectly as small, sturdy tables for hungry tailgaters. Available at Eddie Bauer.
The Rattan Baskets can also be packed with items that people tend to forget when tailgating. These include garbage bags, damp towels in ziplock bags and sharp knives.
- Kosher Salt
Patricio says every tailgate should include a big box of Kosher salt. Yes, you can use it to flavor your food. But salt performs other important duties, too. If you've forgotten to thoroughly chill your drinks, submerging cans or bottles in salty water will dramatically speed the process. For instance, you could chill a bottle of champagne in 15 minutes. Also, sprinkle salt on wet ground to improve traction or to absorb grease spills.
To make a party great, Patricio says you need to set the mood. Here are some of the items he recommends to add to the festive atmosphere:
- EZ-Up International tent to keep off the sun or rain. Available at many camping retail stores and Ezup.com
- Tailgating tables from retail stores like Kmart, sporting goods stores and hardware stores.
- Eastern Mountain Sports chairs, priced from $15 to $30. Available at EMS.com
- Candela rechargeable lights, $78. Patricio says the unique-shaped lights are safer than lanterns and add a warm glow to any tailgate. Available at Vessel-Store.com.
- Virgin Pulse Portable TV/DVD, $499.99; with carrier, $50. This 10.4-inch flat screen has LCD, stereo sound, plays DVDS, CDS and MP3s and has a AM/FM tuner so you don't miss any pre-game action. It can be mounted on the wall or, when in the carrier, attached to the back of a car seat. Available from Target.
- Eddie Bauer stadium throw, $79. Patricio says as cold weather approaches, these blankets will come in handy.
- Crate & Barrel acrylic five-part tray, $19.95; gallery tray, $14.95; and picnic gadget set, $11.95.
- MOMA salt and pepper shaker, $55
For the sport fans who want it all, the Ducane Chuckwagon may be the answer. Its price starts at $6,600. In addition to a high-end grill, it has a built in refrigerator, running water, umbrella and beer tap. It also has a hydraulic lift that can outfit a trailer hitch.