Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner. The biggest game of the NFL season is upon us. So it seemed appropriate to unveil the most important story I'll write all year ... Super Bowl snack rankings. This, friends, is a piece that I forget about until the week of the big game, and yet simultaneously demands some of my best efforts of the season. People take their Super Bowl Sunday snacks seriously. And so I must return the dedication.
That's especially true this year, when your performance in the kitchen might determine whether your marriage (which is now on the rocks thanks to almost a year of getting to know each other during the pandemic) survives into 2021. Oh, don't mind me. I'm just kidding. Your marriage is great. But your Super Bowl snack selection still matters. All those imaginary party guests are going to come hungry! And on the off chance you're packing your house as usual, you're gonna need snacks that help wash away the lack of football gatherings during 2020 (without also washing away their bowels).
Super Bowl LV is almost here, and you can watch it for free on the CBS Sports App.
Originally, I thought about turning this year's Super Bowl snack rankings into a how-to guide for pandemic partygoers -- you know, identifying snacks that can be consumed while wearing a mask (my idea: pouring an entire pitcher of Coke over your face and hoping some seeps through), offering tips for hosting a party through Zoom. But do any of you really care? Guarantee most of you won't even read this sentence right here. You've all skipped this intro and skimmed through the rankings, haven't you? Heck, you're probably already firing off your outrage tweets: You put Buffalo Chicken Dip *where*? Where does @CBSSports get these clowns?
Ever wonder Jerome Bettis' favorite Super Bowl snack? Download and subscribe to All Things Covered with Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden, where The Bus shared what he'll be eating on Sunday.
Anyway, if you're still with me, we've got a different twist this year: Ranking each state's most popular Super Bowl snacks, according to Google data from 2020. I've taken all the most-searched snacks from 50 states and arranged them from worst to first. Of course, this list is entirely, utterly subjective, but I welcome your feedback. (I know you won't listen, but ... try to be nice? I have kids.) By the way, I did this while hungry, delaying my own lunch just to get it done, so you're welcome:
23. Ham and Cheese Sliders
Speaking of marriages, my wife loves ham and cheese stuff. So I want to make crystal clear that this isn't a shot at her. Frankly, these aren't a bad option if you want to stay away from the fried stuff. But is anyone leaping for joy at the sight of ... deli samples?
22. Swedish Meatballs
Love me some meatballs. But you've gotta be in the mood for the ol' Swedish tang. Cut the sauce, add some marinara and spaghetti, and I'm all the way in, baby.
21. Chili Dogs
States: New Hampshire
Nothing wrong with chili dogs. But are they a sustainable snack on game day? How many of you have ever consumed more than one in a single sitting?*
* = without rushing to the bathroom, developing indigestion and/or partaking in the local bar's competitive eating challenge in exchange for a $10 gift certificate and blurry Polaroid pic on the "Chili Champs" Wall of Fame
20. Football Cookies
States: Iowa, Michigan
The only holdup here: What kind of cookies are we talking? The description is too vague to celebrate. If these are chocolate chip cookies shaped as footballs, they skyrocket up the board.
19. Buffalo Chicken Dip
States: Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia
This is the one that's gonna hurt me. I know it. All of you love this stuff, which is great for you. But I'm gonna be honest, folks: *leans in and whispers* I'd rather just eat real Buffalo chicken.
18. Pigs in a Blanket
States: Nevada, North Carolina
I'm always a little too harsh on these little hogs. Baked well, they're good, especially with mustard on hand. But I don't know how you operate your oven or what kind of weenies you buy. And if you mess these up, you're gonna be eating chewy dogs in soggy blankets. That, boys and girls, will be enough to shut down the whole party.
States: Florida, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas
I'm a cake guy. I will not turn down a slice. But we've got a better variation of cake higher on the list. Read on.
16. Baked Sweet Potato
Nothing special, but you just know, with a nice pat of butter, that these will deliver. Bonus: They look like mini footballs!
15. Chicken Club Ranch Roll-Ups
See, these play the same role as Ham and Cheese Sliders -- a cold, simple sandwich item -- but with more punch. If you're looking to go easy on the battered and breaded stuff, this is a nice alternative. (An additional healthy-snacking tip: Quest's Tortilla-style protein chips are really flavorful. Tried some this week, and they're the real deal.)
14. Pulled Pork
How are we serving this? On buns? By itself? With sauce? So many questions that need answered before vaulting it up the board.
13. Jalapeno Poppers
Crispy and spicy, these little nuggets are a surefire party hit. The downside, though, is that one too many might throw you overboard. Unless you've got the 'rona and can't taste anything, you can't be munching on these all night long.
12. Deviled Eggs
Very underrated, if I might say so myself. You need a good handful to feel like you're actually consuming calories, but the blend of topping and hard-boiled eggs is hard to replicate in other snacks.
11. Rotel Dip
This is a queso dip, with tomatoes and ground beef mixed in. In other words, one of the best cheese-based sauces you can add to any party with tortilla chips. Just make sure Greg, who somehow showed up uninvited while a global pandemic rages on, doesn't double dip.
10. Spinach Artichoke Dip
States: California, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, West Virginia
A cool counterpart to queso dip, these one deserves a spot on the main table. Pair it with a soft bread, and your own family members will tip you before the night is over.
9. Sweet Potato Skins
Again, are we ecstatic over sweet potato? Not necessarily. But these are skins! Baked with all kinds of healthy stuff like bacon and cheese, then baked again for an extra crisp.
8. Pepperoni Rolls
I didn't really know what these were until I did this list. A quick Google search turned up some pictures of what appeared to be ... pizza Twinkies? Seems like mini strombolis is a better way to put it. Either way, they sounded good for lunch, and they seem like exactly the kind of small, baked and pizza-y snacks that win over a crowd.
7. Seven-Layer Dip
States: Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming
One of the most popular snacks across the country. Just make sure your guests aren't allergic to beans.
6. Paleo Salmon Cakes
This sounds like something I'd eat at a fancy dinner more than a Super Bowl party, but you're the one buying this stuff, not me. Just think how impressed all your guests (your spouse! your toddler! your dog!) will be when you roll these out on a nice silver tray.
States: Rhode Island
All the glory of cake, sized down to perfect snacking portions. Please, for the love of all things holy, make sure they're chocolate.
4. Pulled Brisket
It's probably not fair to keep pulled pork way down the list because of its open-ended serving options, but whatever. Brisket is such a smart play for those looking to get meat on the plate and pair with secondary snacks like chips, veggies, etc.
States: Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Vermont
It's a snack and a meal. You don't get much better than that. Plus, it's February! We all need a little hearty warmth in our hearts and stomachs. (Unless you live down south. Then, just ignore me. Or crank up the AC and at least try to relate to us, my gosh.)
2. Chicken Wings
States: Connecticut, Massachusetts
I have one rule here: Make sure they aren't slimy. Every now and then, the person in charge of the wings gets a little overzealous with sauce, or forgets to fry the things to a slight crisp, and you're left with a skin resembling Jell-O. That is disgusting. If that happens, you listen to me: Put the wing down, and leave. I don't care if it's your own house. Get out. I don't even care if it was you that pulled this stunt. If that's the case, you deserve to sit outside for the remainder of the game. You can spend the time thinking about what you did.
States: New Mexico (pizza snacks), Washington (pizza dip)
This feels like such an uninspired choice, but there really is no better option. A Super Bowl party without pizza is like a Tom Brady without rings. It doesn't matter if it's made from scratch or ordered from a chain. It works. Thin crust. Thick crust. Plain cheese. Loaded with toppings. The stuff is golden, even if it requires a dab or three with a napkin to soak up that adorable little surface pool of grease. On the off chance you don't wolf it all down on game day, it'll be ripe and ready for reheating the next day. It's the gift that keeps on giving: The pie of champions.