When I was a sophomore in high school, I tried out for the football team and was hit in the face by the ball within the first five minutes. I don't know why I even tried out; I'd always been bad at sports, my hand-eye coordination matching that of an amoeba, and I never felt the joy others seemed to feel whenever they watched "the game" on television. So I didn't really want to play football for the Northview Titans. (Also, our football team was terrible.)
But I think I walked into that tryout because I wanted to try something new, to be someone else entirely for a change. It was another school year, and instead of singing and dancing in the fall musical again or playing piccolo in the band, I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to learn a new skill? To stretch my horizons? To pad out my college application?"
Needless to say, I didn't make the team, and in the remaining years of my high school tenure I boycotted the football games and refused to watch sports on television. "Football is dumb," I would say. But really, I was just ashamed of how badly that ball hit my face and crushed my glasses.
Until one day, a couple years ago, my friend Terika and I were sitting at a dive bar, and "the game" was on: the Atlanta Falcons, our hometown team, versus the New England Patriots. (It was the Super Bowl.) We ordered crispity-crunchity Buffalo wings and French fries, and a couple pitchers of beer. We watched the game, and even enjoyed it. And I thought back to my 15-year-old self who believed sports were boring—but here they were in the future, at a bar, alongside some of my favorite foods and one of my favorite people, plus a hundred strangers who were half-booing and half-cheering, and half–falling over from the excitement of the game. And I thought to myself, "Ohh. This is sports."
Let's face it. One of the best things about watching the Super Bowl with friends is the food: small bites with big flavor you can eat with your hands, and ice-cold beer. Is there anything better? I've gathered our best game-day snacks below, high-impact appetizers to fuel you through "the game" (whether you're actually watching it or not).
Laced with creamy blue cheese and all of the flavors of the Anchor Bar classic, Arthur Bovino's "Buffalo-ized" deviled eggs, from The Buffalo New York Cookbook, are exactly the kind of one-two punch you want when you're at a game-day party. "And while true Buffalo flavor tastes like Paula’s doughnuts, fried bologna at The Pink at two in the morning, chargrilled hot dogs at Ted’s, and beef on weck at Schwabl’s," he writes in the book's introduction, "it’s hard to argue with the effect of applying the flavor profile to many of America’s other favorite dishes."
Resident baker Erin McDowell's soft, homemade pretzels are a doughy celebration of salty goodness. "These pretzels are made in the traditional method," she says, "using a solution made of water and food grade lye. Lye is tricky, but the results are worth it."
Is it even game day without spinach and artichoke dip? This one celebrates feta's tangy, creamy quality, adding a third note to the traditional party appetizer.
A spicy-sweet gochujang glaze turns these game-day meatballs into an addictive snack everyone will love. Plus, you can pop them into your mouth in one bite!
"Pop this in the oven during the pregame show," Kendra Vaculin writes about her sheet-pan nachos, "and let me know how much is left (if any) when Katy Perry takes the field."
This onion dip is a Food52 classic, vetted by Amanda and Merrill themselves. "Patience pays off here—take your time caramelizing the onions," they write, "Their sweetness infuses the entire dip, and while the rest of the ingredients are the classic onion dip foundation—sour cream, cream cheese, and chives—this one will be better than any you've had before."
"A Pull-Apart Cheesy Baked Potato is like a baked potato crossed with a French fry," Ali Slagle writes. "Or rather, cheese fries. Now the question is, why didn’t we think of this sooner?"
These fries mushrooms are irresistible, and perfect for any vegetarians that may be attending. Be sure to slice them: "As with fried pickles," contributor EmilyC writes, "More surface area means more fried goodness."
If you're looking to change it up from the classic Buffalo variety, the sweet, sticky glaze on Asha Loupy's Orange-Sesame Chicken Wings are a fan-favorite. From Asha herself: "The sweetness of the orange is perfectly offset by umami-packed soy sauce, zippy Chinese black vinegar, toasty sesame oil, and a touch of heat from cayenne pepper."
End the savory parade with something sweet, like these totally riffable cookies. Chocolate, granola, and crushed salted pretzels—what's not to love?
What are YOU snacking on at your Super Bowl bash? Let us know in the comments below.