Joe Drozda and Bob Bley are writing the third edition of The Tailgater’s Handbook which will be published in 2014. Drozda is considered the “Father of American Tailgating” by many including The Wall Street Journal. Drozda and Bley both grew up in NW Indiana and attended Indiana University together.
Old-time tailgaters remember the days when bottle and can openers were combined into one miraculous gadget, referred to as the “church key”. In that era, tailgate chefs built their cook fire with the basics - matches and kindling. To avoid a soaking on a rainy game day, it sometimes meant simply staying home. Then times began to change.
As tailgating became more popular, people found that if they wanted a device to improve their experience, designing and making it themselves was the best option. The bottling industry did come up with tab cans and screw-top bottles, but just about everything else evolved through our ingenuity. Tailgaters created shelter from rain and sun by using tarps and bungee cords hooked to luggage racks. People wanting to decorate their parking spot with team colors adapted trailer hitches to hold flagpoles. To have a cooking fire, people used charcoal and lighter fluid with smaller lightweight and collapsible grills. Traditional, heavy metal ice chests were replaced by homemade foam coolers.
Today we have many products that are affordable, colorful and functional so that even the novice can host a successful tailgate party:
• Telescoping flag pole with a stand held down by a wheel of one’s vehicle.
• Self-lighting, propane gas grills that fold into small, compact shapes with wheels.
• Plastic coolers of all shapes and sizes, in team colors - some with wheels.
• Canvas and stainless steel canopies (tents) in team colors that are light and fold for packing.
• Lightweight and strong folding tables and chairs (in team colors) that pack easily.
Even with all the innovations, tailgate setup leaves you hungry for game day snacks. If you’re a fan of carrot cake, try this tasty variation in bar form with the tasty option of a frosting.