For many, tailgating is as much as part of the game day experience as the game itself. While millions will tailgate around the U.S. this year for everything from college football games to Jimmy Buffet concerts, many know little about the history, demographics, and economics of this popular tradition. Read on to learn some interesting facts you can share with other fans at your next tailgating meet up. Some may seriously surprise you and make you see tailgating in a whole new light.
Caesar may have been history's first recorded tailgater.
The Romans were good at a lot of things: building amazing monuments, conquering distant lands, political intrigue, and knowing how to throw a really awesome (and toga-filled) party. Some credit Caesar with being the first to tailgate, right out of the back of a chariot. The story goes that after a particularly crazy chariot race, the leader opened up the Coliseum, inviting people in to enjoy food, drink, and various types of entertainment. Wine, wild fowl, and fights to the death may have been a bit more of the standard fare at these early get-togethers than it is today, but the spirit of the events is quite similar, leading to some giving Caesar credit for getting the tailgating ball rolling, though it wouldn't really take off for another couple of millennia.
People actually tailgated at Civil War battles.
A battlefield probably isn't the place that most of us would want to hang out on the sidelines of (even to cheer on our side), but early tailgaters didn't let a little thing like stray bullets get in their way. At the Battle of Bull Run in 1861, Union Army supporters showed up with some food and drinks and loudly cheered on the soldiers while hanging out in their carriages. They sang fight songs, took bets on how long the battle would take, and even caused a traffic jam when the battle was over â€” all classic tailgating practices.
Some of the first tailgate parties were held for Ivy League teams.
It makes sense that the Ivy League would be home to the earliest tailgating, given that these East Coast schools were some of the first to be established in America. Some believe that tailgating dates back to the very first football game ever played between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869, when fans traveled to the game by horse-drawn carriage, grilling sausages at the "tail-end" of the horse and spawning the term "tailgating." Of course, not everyone agrees with this theory, and there are many competing claims for being the originator of tailgating.
Yale also claims to have started tailgating.
According to Yale, their alums were the first to start the practice of tailgating. Their theory goes that fans in private railcars heading to a Yale football game had to walk from the station to the field, and had little chance to get food along the way. It became common to bring food and drinks along with to the games. By 1906, most Yalies were driving cars to the game,s but were still continuing their tradition of lunching before the event, and the get-togethers were called "parking lot picnics."
U of Kentucky is yet another school that lays claim to creating tailgating.
Some believe that it was Southerners who created the tradition of tailgating at the University of Kentucky in 1881. Students and alumni at the school's football games were said to have dined on wild fish and other tasty treats before the game and hung out eating leftovers and socializing after the game as well. So who really started tailgating? The reality may well be that it started in several places at once, with no one really inventing it at all. After all, people have been bringing food to sporting events for centuries.
Standard tailgate fare differs depending on where you live.
What people consider essentials for tailgating spreads isn't the same across the board. Different areas of the country have their own favorites and traditions. While fare like burgers and chips may be common everywhere, some regions have specialties. For instance, those in Louisiana may consider jambalaya a tailgating must, while those in the Midwest simply can't go without brats. And the West Coast? Don't be surprised to see grilled fish or pasta. While dishes may differ from region to region, one thing is the same across the board: beer.
The most practiced tailgater in the nation may be super fan Joe Cahn.
Often called "The Commish" Kahn has visited every NFL stadium, 125 college stadiums, and 9 NASCAR tracks during his 15 years of tailgating across the nation. In 1996, Cahn sold his business, the Louisiana School of Cooking, and took to the road to promote tailgating, serving up over 325 pots of his famous jambalaya as he enjoyed over 800 different tailgating parties.
The idea for eating out of the back of a car may have started in 1866 with Charles Goodnight.
This Texas rancher and entrepreneur noticed that the cowboys he employed needed a way to eat on the road, so he transformed a U.S. Army Studebaker wagon into a mobile kitchen. There, hungry ranch hands could get their chow, relax, and socialize after a long day of working.
Green Bay Packer tailgaters hold the record for braving the coldest weather to support their team.
Wisconsin winters are notoriously brutal, but that doesn't keep these superfans from setting up shop in the parking lots. In 1967, fan braved a wind chill of 48 degrees below zero to see the Packers defeat the Cowboys in what would become known as the "Ice Bowl."
The average tailgater spends more than $500 per year on food for tailgating.
Tailgating is a great time, but it isn't always cheap. On average, tailgaters spend in excess of $500 a year on food, not counting booze. With the average tailgater attending six to 10 parties a season, paying for tickets, and traveling to the event, things can get pretty expensive.
Most tailgaters are men.
While many women enjoy tailgating, the stats show that it is largely a male pastime. A survey found that 79% percent of tailgaters are men, making women a serious minority in stadium parking lots.
The majority of tailgaters are between 25 and 44.
Oddly enough, college students aren't the ones packing parking lots before football games. Most tailgaters are older, between their mid-twenties and mid-forties. Only 4% of tailgaters are between 12 and 20, and just 9% are over 55, while a whopping 60% are between 25 and 44.
Each year between 20 and 50 million Americans tailgate in a stadium parking lot.
That's a whole lot of tailgaters! The American Tailgater Association estimates that at least 20 million headed out for tailgating in 2006, with other studies suggesting that the real figures may actually be much higher.
During the past decade, the number of sports fans who regularly tailgate has risen.
Between 2001 and 2006, the number of sports fans who regularly tailgate has risen by 12% annually, making tailgating a multi-billion dollar industry.
30% of tailgaters don't even attend the game.
Homer Simpson once said, "We're not here for the game. The game is nothing. The game is crap. The game makes me sick. The real reason we Americans put up with sports is for this: Behold, the tailgate party. The pinnacle of human achievement." It seems that many tailgaters agree with him, with a whopping 30% attending tailgating alone, never entering the stadium.
The majority of tailgaters are college educated.
Whether they're supporting their alma mater or just huge sports fans, college grads make up a large percentage of those who tailgate. Fifty-nine percent of tailgaters have a college degree, with 14% having a graduate degree. While may might use tailgating as an excuse to act stupid, the reality is that most tailgaters are actually pretty well-educated
The Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville, Florida may hold the record for the largest tailgating party.
Fans of the teams begin arriving on Wednesday for the Saturday game - and some don't actually leave until late Sunday. The tailgating extravaganza has earned the yearly event, held on the last Saturday in October, the nickname of the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." The party has a checkered past, however, with many fans getting excessively drunk and even storming the field and tearing down the goal posts.
A 2006 ranking named Baltimore as America's best tailgating city.
Tailgating experts (yes, there is such a thing) looked at criteria like parking lots, environment, and fan enthusiasm and ranked this East Coast city as the best place to experience tailgating in the U.S. Rounding out the top five cities are Denver, Houston, San Diego, and Cincinnati.
Americans spend over $35 billion on food, beverages, and supplies for tailgating each year.
Tailgating isn't just fun and games for companies selling supplies and food products. It's also a serious source of revenue and a multi-billion dollar industry that hasn't shown signs of slowing down even in the face of the recession - especially when it comes to college games.
Ninety-five percent of tailgaters prepare their food at the stadium.
Tailgaters aren't about to eat just anything. Few prepare food ahead of time or bring fast food. Instead, the majority grill, smoke, or fry foods right on site, with many using specialized tailgating gear.
More and more schools are aiming to make tailgating green.
Last year, more than 75 schools participated in Game Day Challenge, an initiative started by the EPA. The schools effectively kept 500,000 pounds of waste out of landfills by designing waste reduction plans and promoting recycling at tailgating and stadium events.
ESPN ranked LSU as the best place to tailgate for college games.
When it comes to college tailgating, ESPN felt that Louisiana State University boasts the best experience. Other top schools the sports channel lauds for tailgating fun are Ole Miss, Tennessee, Washington, and Penn State.
Sporting events aren't the only places people tailgate.
Tailgating may have began at football games, but the trend is now expanding to include other stadium events. One of the biggest non-sports-related events people tailgate for is concerts. Some, like fans of musician Jimmy Buffet, have extremely elaborate and large tailgating parties before the concert begins (and sometimes afterwards, too).
Many fans watch the game from the parking lot with the help of modern technologies.
Why sit in uncomfortable bleachers and pay for a ticket when you can catch the game right in your car while tailgating? A growing number of tailgaters are taking advantage of technologies that let them watch pre-game coverage, other match-ups, or the game itself from their cars.
The top five most-purchased items by tailgaters during the 2006 football season were (in order) cooler, grill, alcohol, furniture, and meat.
Tailgaters aren't afraid to spend big when it comes to game day essentials. Most spend money on both food and equipment, hoping to make the most out of their tailgating experience.
- from www.onlinecolleges.net