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Tops Friendly Markets highlights top tailgating trends as football season gets underway


Tue, Sep 12th 2023 12:45 pm

Second annual ‘Slider Showdown’ promises tailgating inspiration ahead of home opener

Guest Editorial by Tops Friendly Markets

Football, friends and food. It’s the winning combination for one of the most important aspects of gameday – the tailgate party.

It’s no surprise that Western New Yorkers rank as some of the best tailgaters in football. Sports are part of our regional DNA, bringing the community together over a shared devotion to our teams – and sharing good food and drink.

Whether you’re outside the stadium or in your best friend’s driveway, Tops Friendly Markets wants to help local fans create gameday gatherings that rally your squad and get everyone fueled up for the action on the field.

From updating the classic tailgate fare to creating an Instagram-worthy atmosphere, here are some top trends for this season that will have everyone buzzing before kickoff.

Upgrade the Classics

Hamburgers, hot dogs, and sliders – the undisputed champions of tailgating. While you can never go wrong with a classic, there are plenty of opportunities to add some flare and level-up the standards.

A toppings bar is the easiest way to upgrade your classic hamburger or hot dog. Along with the must-have condiments, add some different and unique options. For burgers and sliders, try avocados, chunky salsa, bacon and peach jam, or blue cheese and barbecue sauce. For hot dogs, try nacho cheese and jalapeño peppers, pickled vegetables, or make it a breakfast dog with scrambled eggs and sautéed mushrooms.

You can elevate your tailgate further by swapping some of the standard burgers and dogs with sloppy joes, pulled pork, mini lobster rolls or crispy quinoa sliders.

Make Food for Everyone

It’s easier than ever to ensure all your guests enjoy your tailgate – regardless of any dietary restrictions. With a little bit of planning, you can accommodate both carnivore and vegan tastes, take care of your gluten-free friends, and offer more enticing nonalcoholic beverages.

The variety and availability of vegetarian and vegan tailgate favorites – such as burgers, sliders and hot dogs – have grown tremendously over the past few years. You can find an assortment of plant-based versions in the frozen food section, or try your hand at crafting homemade black bean burgers.

Gluten-free products – from rolls to pretzels – are easy to find with plenty of variety to choose from. Be sure to label which options are gluten-free!

Trending across the board, mocktails and nonalcoholic beer have come a long way in terms of flavor profiles and variety. It’s a great way to round out your beverage offerings beyond the go-to alcohol-free options of water and soft drinks. Craft-brewed nonalcoholic beer is even winning fans among traditional beer drinkers.

Be a Gracious Guest

According to one survey, 84% of people believe that everyone attending a tailgate should bring something. And if you don’t, well, you risk your chances of getting invited back.

Adding to the tailgate bounty doesn’t need to be labor-intensive. Grab-and-go items – chips, pretzels, popcorn, even cheese and crackers – will keep the invitation open to the next tailgate. Upgrading is relatively easy when browsing the snack aisle where you can bring spice (chili pepper or hot barbecue chips), unique flavors (dill pickle), or satisfy a sweet tooth (kettle corn).

Another option: Preparing your favorite tailgate dish to share. It’s a great way to introduce your friends to something new. It’s also a great tactic if you have a food allergy or dietary concern, ensuring you have something to eat or drink while alleviating some of the expectations and stress on your host.

Show Your Team Spirit

While food and beverages are the star of the show, no tailgate is complete without a little home-team flavor. You can gear up from head to toe in team-inspired apparel – from hats and jerseys to sweatshirts and socks.

If you need new gear, we’ve always been fans of 26 Shirts, which sells Buffalo apparel that gives back to our community. We recently teamed up with its founder, Del Reid, and PLB Sports and Entertainment to launch Dills Mafia Pickles, available exclusively at select Tops locations, with a portion of all sales benefiting FeedMore WNY.

Team-inspired decorations can help you clinch the win, too – table coverings, napkins, plates and cups all come in team colors. Incorporate your personal style and unleash your creativity with fabric paint, markers and glitter for a homemade team flag. Display your creation proudly from the back of your car or across the front of your tailgating table.

The final complement to a great tailgate? The pregame activities. Create some excitement, and burn off that extra energy, by bringing along some yard games. Cornhole continues to be the popular choice. It’s easy to set up, accessible and simple for first-timers to learn. It also serves as a great way to meet new people and break the ice.

Try ‘Homegating’

The latest trend isn’t happening at the stadium – it’s happening at home!

“Homegating” – tailgating in your driveway or backyard – is a perfect way to create a fun and engaging gameday experience with family, friends and good food, while retaining the comforts of home. It’s an especially perfect option for away games!

Keep the spirit of the tailgate by firing up the grill for sliders and hot dogs along with classic snacks – chips, dips and pretzels. But being at home, with a full kitchen at your disposal, allows for more offerings – and more engagement with your guests.

Create a tailgate food challenge with your friends and family. Have a chili cookoff to see who really has the best recipe. Create a bracket challenge for your dips and chips and see which is the fan favorite – guacamole, chicken wing dip, salsa, spinach artichoke dip, or your tried-and-true unique creation.

Wherever you tailgate this season, let it be an opportunity to try a few new things, unleash your creativity, and join in with the rest of the community in cheering on your favorite team.

Rush to the RedZone for Tailgate Inspiration

Tops Friendly Markets is here to help. Start your gameday planning with a “Rush to the Tops RedZone.” In our stores, you’ll find all the ingredients you need for a championship-caliber tailgate. And, if you visit us online at topsmarkets.com/RedZone, you’ll find recipes and contests that will take your tailgate to the next level.

The second annual Tops “Slider Showdown” provides an amazing opportunity to score some new ideas and creativity for your tailgate. This Friday, Sept. 15, local celebrity teams will compete to prove they make the best slider in the “City of Good Neighbors.” Visit our Tops Friendly Markets location at 3980 Maple Road, Amherst, at 1 p.m. Friday to catch the action and cheer on your favorite slider squad.

(Tops photo)


Taste of Buffalo Donation

On Monday, Tops was proud to present the largest check in Taste of Buffalo proceeds history to Sleep in Heavenly Peace's (SHP) Buffalo chapter. The organization was overwhelmed to receive a check in the amount of $17,715.

Annually, 100% of all of the proceeds from the Tops tent and prize wheel during the Taste of Buffalo benefit a different nonprofit, and this year's benefactor not only gained funding to support its efforts, but also volunteers at the two-day food event in the heart of downtown Buffalo.

"We are a 100% volunteer-based organization and so we rely on the funding from partners like Tops to ensure these wishes are fulfilled," said Betsy DiVita, co-founder of Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

SHP, on average, makes 100 beds per month fulfilling wishes for children ages 3-17 who have no bed to call their own. To learn about the great work it does, visit https://lnkd.in/efGKqZcv.

Based in Williamsville, Tops Markets currently operates 149 grocery stores in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, including five that are run by franchisees. For more information, visit www.topsmarkets.com.

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