Going out for dinner is an American luxury these days! The joys that American eateries can produce in some kitchens is remarkable and it’s all presented to you with hopefully helpful and worry-free service. The way we experience these visits to your favorite restaurants or diners has a common parallel in how we go about our ordering preferences with another things that’s beloved in the fifty states; football!
Like dining out, football is mainly consumed over the weekend and interestingly follows a similar timeline as our dining experiences.
Typically when you dine-out, you follow a routine with tendencies going to certain parts of the meal. An appetizer is your first choice and while you can live without the warmed-up warmer-upper, sometimes you just find yourself craving a a little taste.
The NFL’s weekly Thursday Night Football game in terms of the Football Weekend Timeline (FWT), is the appetizer.
The Thursday Night Game rarely is an essential game of the weekend but at that point of the week you can’t drone on around the office or warehouse having to hear about Gina’s daughter’s eighth grade back-up volleyball team, pretending to care as you smile and nod at her rant about the volleyball coach’s politics. It’s usually a divisional game for added intrigue, with temptation as the first stab of the weekend of football whale, some will toss that harpoon and give-in–most do. Just like the appetizer at the eatery of your choice. Usually, by the time the game is done and those fried jalapeno poppers are gone the reality does set in that you didn’t need to order that appetizer or watch that AFC South contest!
Typically, viewership of the Thursday Night game, like when ordering appetizers depends on how much time the customer has for such things. Still, restaurants and the NFL do not care about time restrictions… They care about business!
This quote from Scot Consentino, owner of Goodfellas Pizzeria added this selling tip on appetizers, backing the notion that appetizers or Thursday Night Football are simply was to get us to divulge in the products.
“We are in the business of selling,” Cosentino says. “If your staff doesn’t know that, then you’d better retrain them. If every wait staff employee can add an appetizer to the bill, it adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales and can make the difference between the success and failure of a business.” (1)
Much like Consentino’s business promoting, the NFL throws out a little nibble of the feasting/FWT tradition early in the Thursday night game not because you necessarily need it but more because your mind thinks you do! By weekend’s end when you’re wondering where your money/time is going and you feel you have to really start reconsidering your ordering/scheduling priorities. But when those little plates are dished out with a basket of wings to pass around and those NFL Color Rush jersey are put on for the Thursday Night game, you’re just enjoying the gorge.
While you were sitting in your booth and getting comfortable, going over the rigmarole of the week’s happenings with whatever loved ones bother to discuss them, you have a server with a pasted smile ask, “What can we get you to drink today?” The drink order… the NCAA games of the FWT and probably the biggest pivot point decision of the entire meal!
Drink orders and College Football games are never easy in America! Go to your nearest grocery store on Friday afternoon and observe the people analyzing the beer isles. Now, you’ll have your diehards that go in grab that 30-pack of Old Milwaukee and B-line it back out the store! These are the NCAA die-hards. They have their team/drink that they’ve been devout to their whole lives and that’s all they need. Then there are the rest of the observers who are pulled in more directions than a high school four-star recruit. There’s the prestigious beers that have higher prices (Guinness/Notre Dame), or the bountiful light beers that have more people’s attentions (Bud Light/Alabama), then there’s exotic beers and you just don’t know how good the really are (Sam Adams Grapefruit/Louisville). Than there are spirits that are sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet but never boring (Gin/Michigan or Rum/USC). Which will you choose? It’s sort of like college football Saturday football TV slates, where for the most part loyalty is tossed to the side and you are willing to give as a football fan any program your interest.
Your diehard drink choices are there week in, week out like your domestic pours. But that new season Oktoberfest brew just came in to the Top 25 rankings and you gotta find out what the fuss is about. Teams like Boise State, Texas Christian University and the University of Houston are your exotic beers that ma have some added flavor you’ve never witness/tasted. Which ever you choose is a gamble, as most NCAA games are as unpredictable as to what goes into a drink order. There’s the added risks that the kegs may be skunked out or nearing expiration. The bartender might be new and not know how to make a proper Old Fashioned, making for a long night of stomach turning like when a National Championship contender suffers a tough upset defeat. It’s a pivotal choice, but a great part of the FWT and the dining timeline as well. But now it’s time to answer the old lady and address the question, where’s the beef?… It lies with Sunday’s feast of NFL football or the dining-out main entrée.
Unlike the endless options of the drink-menu that is the NCAA, the NFL reserves people to 32 options. A much more considerable menu of devotion with fewer distractions but still added temptations to divert your intentions. For example, you may be a steak/potato guy (Steelers, Eagles, Packers fan) but tonight you have invested interest in the special (Panthers, Seahawks, Texans). Fantasy football in the NFL derives our attention as easily as that hot sizzling plate of fajitas that just whizzed by your table, causing you to wonder how important the game you want to watch is. The seasoned Tex-Mex dish can send you another direction and rethink your loyalty to that beefy-filet. Usually, it doesn’t sway you from that classic bacon burger with fries but it’s not like the NFL is going to limit you to that bun and beef sandwich. Perhaps you just want a homeland side like Texas toast (Dallas Cowboys) to go with your Mahimahi (Miami Dolphins), the NFL Sunday smorgasbord of games is just the right amount choices and ends your weekend of football/dining experience full and complete and hopefully with no backlash from poor service or preparation.
You’re sitting there. You’re full, slightly uncomfortable and contemplating how much alcohol potency is left in the backwash 1/12th of that tall draft beer you ordered. Do you get a box for that fourth of the steak that you can’t bear to look at anymore or acknowledge your inner-conscious to stop world hunger? The bill is looming of Monday and work, taking you away from the weekend and football. That moment when that server you seemingly forgot about whose smile has grown since you ordered that appetizer (Thursday Night Game/imported seasonal beer (Saturday Night Wisconsin vs. LSU) /large steak (Steelers Sunday afternoon game) with an added special side of grits (Atlanta Falcons Sunday night game) and they ask you “Now, has anyone left some room for dessert?”
Commonly, the dessert option is turned down, but sometimes you just have to give in! From basic ice cream/pie to the new frozen yogurt creation the NFL has this equivalent in the Monday Night Football game.
Monday Night Football, like dessert is a traditional glutenous classic. It’s something you hardly ever need but you always kinda long for. Even more similar to the FWT with dessert and dining-out you are worn down from the weekend’s long buffet of games/meals and drinks but you may just have to get that last bite in for good measure.
The Monday Night game has lost it’s luster as has ordering dessert in America over the years. (5) People don’t tend to flash out the extra bucks or attention to the weekend football finale just like they turn down the tempting spinning cake in the diner’s window. Perhaps, like the discomfort of realization of how much food you consumed or football you watched over the weekend has hit hard by Monday routine/sudden indigestion. It’s time to play catch-up with work or the slow down button with diet consumption and you more than likely just don’t need that last piece of the FWT or dining agenda. That doesn’t keep everyone away however.
According to a poll conducted by Monmouth University; “One in ten diners said they always order dessert, while 42 percent of diners never do. Diners in the west and southeastern regions of the U.S. are more likely than those in the Midwest to order dessert.” (2) However, that probably has more to do with the fact that desserts are seen in America as a means of celebrating and the Detroit Lions/Chicago Bears/Minnesota Vikings haven’t had much to celebrate over recent decades.
“No, no, you’re thinking of dessert—that’s food we have after we have our food. We eat tons of food. ” — Jim Gaffigan on American’s consumption of food. (3)
Football and Dining; two great and very similar traditions of Americana.
Thursday Night is the appetizer that we love to use to kickoff our gluttony early.
Friday/Saturday Night college football is the drink order, offering a plethora of options that leaves us always wondering, “What the hell that industry will come up with next?”
Sunday NFL Football is the main course and the entrée of our weekend where we really get what we want and pay the most attention to.
Since 2011-12, “Sunday Night Football” has led all of primetime television in the 18-49 demo and total viewers. (4)
And Monday Night is the never-ending struggle of the dessert option. It’s not necessary to most but still tend to give into it. MNF/Dessert leaves us lingering with something to work off/out of our systems for two work days as we finally receive that bill that we question on all of Tuesday and Wednesday.
The experience ends and you wonder if your service was worth it? Should that drink have cost that much? Did that waiter/waitress smile often and vibrantly enough? Will I come back to this establishment again? Most likely, yes to all. Why? Because it’s the entertainment value of American culture. Dining out and watching football are basic grains of American joy and both do a great job of reminding us in the expanded fifty colonies something we have in common… A feeling to gorge on our beloved things; in this case it’s football and dining!