When watching a college football game on TV, fans only care about what happens on the field. But when you’re actually at the game, you need something more to complement the on-field entertainment because you’re standing in a giant crowd of people who have been sweating all day long, there are about a million commercial breaks, a halftime and there’s a 50 percent chance your team’s going to lose.
Sometimes this extra entertainment can come in the form of a school marching band or perhaps a charismatic mascot. But for most people, it’s going to be the food. Hot dogs, bratwurst and nachos are all staples of an important football game experience. And while most college football fans compare their alma maters based on wins and losses, maybe we should also start comparing them by concessions. If we do, here are 10 schools that are competing for the College Football Concession Playoffs.
10. THE MIZZOU DOG
Faurot Field, University of Missouri
Every football stadium sells hot dogs. It’s probably a federal law. But most places just stick their hot dogs in some lukewarm water, put it on a stale bun and then sell it for $10 to students who are paying 40 grand a year in tuition. If you’re dropping that much cash on a hot dog, it better be good.
The Mizzou Dog is absolutely worth every dollar it costs. They take a regular hot dog, add some onion straws and then top it with chopped brisket. It’s a combination of Americana and classic Southern barbecue. And you don’t even have to deal with annoying Southern football fans to get it. Win-Win.
9. THE RUNZA
Memorial Stadium, University of Nebraska
Cornhuskers football is basically a religion in Nebraska. If you express anything resembling hatred towards the program, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be stoned to death in the Lincoln town square. And since their team is named after people who work with food, you know the concessions at their games are going to be good.
At Memorial Stadium, there’s tons of great food such as tube steaks and cheddar brats. But the best, although not at all the healthiest, option is the Runza. It’s a dough pocket filled with ground beef, cheese and onions. It’s sort of like a burrito, but filled with stuff you can find in Nebraska.
8. DREAMLAND BBQ NACHOS
Bryant-Denny Stadium, University of Alabama
The Crimson Tide currently pay Nick Saban approximately $400 million to coach their football team, which means their program has a lot of money. When you’re athletic department is basically diving into gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, it’s not surprising that the concessions are pretty darn good as well.
But Dreamland BBQ Nachos actually has nothing to do with Alabama’s recent success. They’ve been providing Tuscaloosa with delicious food ever since 1958, which just happens to be the debut season of legendary Crimson Tide coach Bear Bryant. So for nearly 60 years Alabama fans have been chowing down on delicious nachos topped with the best barbecued meats. Doesn’t that just make hate them more?
7. MAPLE DOUGHNUT
LaVell Edwards Stadium, Brigham Young University
When you think about football games, you usually think about savory foods. It’s mostly sausages and burgers on a charcoal grill, not cupcakes and fudge. But maybe we should change that aspect of our football culture.
BYU is trying to do so. At LaVell Edwards Stadium, if you’re in the mood for something different, you can feast on some maple doughnuts. They even tried to make the longest maple doughnut in the world a few years ago, so they clearly care a lot about the quality of their pastries. Don’t worry, they also offer grilled burritos as well. No one’s going to force you to eat a dozen doughnuts, but you probably wouldn’t complain if someone did.
6. UDDER DELIGHTS ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
Spartan Stadium, Michigan State University
If you plan on getting into the food business, there are two things you should know: 1. The food has to be good. 2. The name has to be better. Would people buy a quesarito if it was called a “Quesadilla-Burrito combo sandwich”? Of course not!
The staff at Spartan Stadium is well-aware of these facts, which explains why they named their most famous concession treat the “Udder Delights Ice Cream Sandwiches.” Even if these ice cream sandwiches sucked (which they don’t), they’d still sell a ton of them with that name alone.
5. FROZEN LEMONADE
Sanford Stadium, University of Georgia
Food isn’t the only thing college students worry about at football games. There are also beverages. Unfortunately, most stadiums don’t serve alcohol at games, which means most people are forced to shell out $8 for a Pepsi. It’s basically a rip-off.
The folks at Georgia know their fans deserve some creativity when it comes to beverages. That’s why they decided to offer frozen lemonade. Sounds a little unoriginal, but if you’ve ever been outside in Georgia in late August, you know you’ll need something to cool off. A regular lemonade will turn warm in about 30 seconds, so a frozen one will keep you refreshed for much longer. So while your team isn’t getting blown out by the Crimson Tide, at least you won’t be suffering from heat stroke.
4. MARIONBERRY BBQ SANDWICHES
Autzen Stadium, University of Oregon
When you think of barbecue, there are some places in the country that come to mind. Texas, Memphis, St. Louis, even North Carolina. But Oregon is not one of those places. But believe it or not, the University of Oregon knows a lot about smoking meats.
At a Ducks game, fans can enjoy a barbecue sandwich topped with a sauce made out of marionberries, which are “a blend of genetically-engineered hybrid blackberries,” and coffee. They’re basically creating their own style of barbecue in Eugene. Would a Texan find this delicious? Probably not. But for anyone who’s not a barbecue snob, it’s going to be one of the best things you’ll ever eat.
3. NACHO MADNESS
Camp Randall Stadium, University of Wisconsin
Here is a list of things Wisconsin is known for: Cheese, sausages. That’s it. If you don’t like cheese and sausages, and preferably a combination of those two, then you should probably avoid Wisconsin and visit any of the other 50 states.
Lucky for the state of Wisconsin, football fans love cheese and sausages, so it’s basically a Tailgate Mecca. The Wisconsin Badgers are well-aware of this fact and tailored their concessions to their unhealthy clientele. Their signature dish is Nacho Madness. It’s just like regular nachos, but it’s topped with bratwurst and cheese curds. Wisconsinites can’t even enjoy nachos without topping it with encased meats and cheese curds. There is something seriously wrong with that state.
2. NEW ORLEANS CUISINE
Death Valley, Louisiana State University
College football isn’t the only aspect of society where people care a lot about rankings. Nearly every website on the planet has ranked the best cities for food in the United States, and in every single one of those articles, New Orleans is near the top. So obviously New Orleans’ college football team would have amazing food.
LSU may be located in Baton Rouge, but Tigers fans wouldn’t know it based on their food selection. They have catfish po boys, spicy jambalaya and basically any other staple New Orleans dish you can think of. And you don’t have to deal with a million drunken idiots on Bourbon Street. Well, you’ll still have to deal with drunken idiots, but not nearly as many.
Cotton Bowl, Red River Shootout
However you rank the best rivalries in college football, Oklahoma-Texas has to be in the top five. Yes, the Longhorns haven’t been relevant since Vince Young, and Oklahoma has time and time again choked on the national stage. But it’s a historic rivalry between two of the most passionate fan bases in college football. The two teams meet every year at the Red River Shootout at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
The Cotton Bowl is a great stadium with good food, but every year a major event upstages its concessions: the Texas State Fair. That’s right, before and after seeing Oklahoma and Texas play a historic rivalry game, their fans can mingle together at the biggest gathering of unhealthy foods in the entire nation. They have every single food you can think of, and it’s probably been fried. Fried PB&J? They have it. Fried butter? They have it. They even fry beer! Is that even possible? How does that even work? Is it even good? It doesn’t matter! Just eat as much as you can and hope you don’t have a coronary.
That’s what football is all about.
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Joseph Misulonas is the Girls co-editor for Playboy.com. He is from Illinois, hence his bashing of Wisconsin. He can be found on Twitter at @jmisulonas.