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9 things to know before bringing food to the Grove

Don’t be that guy.

Auburn v Mississippi Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Grove is steeped in tradition, and nothing is more sacred than the food on the tables under the tent. What you choose to put out can make or break your experience, not just from a tastiness perspective, but also from a “oh my god did you see the shitty pasta salad Evan tried to pass off as gourmet?” No one wants to be that dude.

With this weekend marking the first opportunity to cement your social status atop the mountain of those-who-spend-far-more-than-necessary-waiting-for-a-football-game-to-start, I’ve put together a list of food dos and don’ts. This isn’t some kind of ranking of Grove foods, far from it; some of these are absolute perfection already. I’ve just gone to a lot of games and am very pretentious about meaningless stuff, so I’ve learned a thing or two.

There are plenty of Grove foods that I’m not mentioning here. I just have some strong thoughts on a few of these, and you’re going to read them! Pretty soon, I’ll slink back to my palace of negativity and talk about sports again.

1. Keep the sausage balls simple.

Sausage balls are a Grove mainstay, and they’re usually excellent. Every now and then, people pull out some special recipe they basically just made up with tarragon curry or some bullshit in it. Just stick to the script, n00bs. The back of the Bisquick box bears the recipe you’re supposed to use. While that fancy dark chocolate sausage ball may sound good in theory, nothing beats the cheesy, bready goodness of the basic.

2. If you can’t cook, grab a Chick-fil-A nugget tray.

Look, we get it. Some people can’t cook or just don’t want to take the time to do so. We’ve all been there. If this describes you, get the Chick-fil-A nugget tray, but don’t skimp. Get the big one. Otherwise people will judge you... hard.

3. Ham and cheese sliders need to be done right.

So these can be really good, especially since they’re good throughout the day. The key, however, is to be sure everything is nice and melty in the morning. If you’re just throwing meat and flat cheese on a bun with some mayo or something, you’re letting the tent down. These need to be super flavorful, and the cheese has to hold them together.

4. You can cheat with Chicken salad.

Psst.... use Newk’s chicken salad. It’s a dirty little secret. You can pretend you made the chicken salad yourself if you want.

5. Mississippi heat and cream-cheese-based dips don’t mix.

So this goes in the category of “it seemed good in theory, and it was a hit at first, but then it sat out in the heat for two hours, and now no one wants to touch it.” For real, I love these dips so much. Beer dip, Captain Rodney’s dip, etc. with some pretzel thins or something are magnificent. They’re just only magnificent for a little while, and then they wreck your stomach if you eat them. If there’s someone you don’t like at the tailgate (you know, the dude who brought the bottom shelf liquor), ask them if they’ve tried the philly cheese dip. “It’s to DIE for.”

6. Pigs in a blanket are underrated.

People talk about how these are unoriginal, but they’ll be one of the first things you run out of. They’re just really convenient, and they’re little so you can feel like you’re eating in moderation when you grab six.

7. Veggie trays are fine, I guess.

This is really only on the table so that people can look back at the end of the day and say, “well I wasn’t too bad. I did have all those carrots.”

8. Leave your bag of chips at home.

Just leave, Carl. Just leave. No one likes you, and we all talk about you behind your back.

9. Skip dessert.

I have a sweet tooth, so there’s a special place in my heart for decadent delights. The trouble is that we’re drinking bourbon all day already. I’m watching my girlish figure, and I don’t need all those empty carbs. PLUS, I’m already likely to be nursing an alcohol related hangover tomorrow. I don’t need a sugar hangover on top of it.