Concession stand classics: 10 stadium eats to try this college football season
Football and food. Can you have one without the other?
While that buffalo chicken dip or breakfast burrito at your favorite tailgate may look tempting, trust us when we say you’re going to want to save room for some of college football’s tastiest stadium treats.
No longer is a simple hot dog or bucket of popcorn up to par. From Louisiana to Lincoln, Neb., fans are chowing down on delicacies as they cheer on the boys of fall. Never heard of a Badger Stacker or an Udder Delights ice cream sandwich? Well, you’ve been missing out. We’ve rounded up our top 10 picks of the best college stadium concessions on the market because, let’s face it: the classics just aren’t cutting it anymore.
Alabama: Dreamland BBQ Nachos (Bryant-Denny Stadium)
Serving the area since Bear Bryant’s debut season in Tuscaloosa in 1958, Dreamland is arguably as big a part of football season in Dixie as the Crimson Tide. So it only makes sense that fans would be able to chow down on a basket of savory BBQ nachos as they cheer Bama on, right? Patrons can find a few of John (Big Daddy) Bishop’s original recipes all throughout Bryant-Denny Stadium, but if it’s ribs they're looking for, a trip to the original restaurant off Jug Factory Road should still be on the T-town-weekend itinerary.
Red River Rivalry: State Fair Concessions (Cotton Bowl)
Fried, fried, fried everything. And we mean everything. When Texas takes the field against rival Oklahoma, fans can rest assured they won’t go hungry. The game is played every year in the iconic Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and the burnt-orange and crimson-and-cream faithful must walk through the annual Texas State Fair to get there. From fried cookie dough to fried bacon, from fried beer to fried cotton candy, we dare you to take a trip to the Red River Rivalry and not come back in a food coma. We dare you.
Georgia: Frozen Lemonade and Pulled Pork Sandwiches (Sanford Stadium)
Is there anything more Southern than an ice-cold glass of lemonade and a barbecue sandwich? How about a frozen lemonade—it stays cold even longer!—and a pulled pork sandwich at Sanford Stadium? This is a concession stand offering that’s more traditional than many others on this list, and it’s the simplicity and regional character of this combination that caught our attention.
LSU: Catfish Po'boys and Jambalaya (Tiger Stadium)
The Tigers take their Cajun and Creole heritage seriously. So, with an SEC school located 80 miles from the Big Easy, it’s to be expected that the regional fare would infiltrate tailgating traditions and stadium concessions. At LSU fans can find everything from catfish po’boys to oh-so-spicy jambalaya just around the corner from their seats in Death Valley. We can’t guarantee a heartburn-free night, but we feel confident that it doesn't get much better than finishing a cup of gumbo before watching the home team pull out a victory in the fourth quarter. After all, the Jambalaya Calculator only belongs in Louisiana.
Wisconsin: Nacho Madness and Badger Stacker (Camp Randall Stadium)
Healthy eaters, beware! The Badgers’ concessions stand is not the place for you. Equipped with snacks to satisfy regardless of kickoff time, Camp Randall is a foodie’s heaven. Too early to eat a burger? Try the Badger Stacker, a full omelet with grilled bratwurst, topped with cheese. Not in the mood for a traditional stadium dog? The Nacho Madness plate is right in your wheelhouse. Classic nachos come topped with the state’s pride and joy—juicy bratwurst and fresh cheese curds. Only in Wisconsin.
Nebraska: Original Runza Sandwich (Memorial Stadium)
Ever wondered what an edible football would taste like? Enter the Original Runza Sandwich. Coming from the iconic restaurant chain in Lincoln, this savory dough pocket stuffed with ground beef, cabbage, onions and cheese is the ideal snack for a shiver-inducing November night game. A bonus: Runza proudly declares that its meat is never frozen—a rarity among concession stand finds—so you know you’re getting a quality treat.
Tennessee: The Smokey Dog (Neyland Stadium)
Is it a little unusual to eat something that has the same name as the home team’s mascot? Definitely. But will fans forget that irony as soon as they bite into a Smokey Dog? Absolutely. This is a hot dog with cheese inside of it, a marriage of two of our favorite game-day staples. Plus, who wouldn’t want to try a dish named after the adorable mascot best known for spunky entrances and history of making it on the Volunteers’ injury report from time to time?
Michigan State: Udder Delights Ice Cream Sandwiches (Spartan Stadium)
Oregon: Marionberry BBQ Sandwiches (Autzen Stadium)
Served on a ciabatta bun, this BBQ sandwich embraces a Northwest barbecue sauce made with marionberry and coffee. As strange as it sounds, the blend of genetically-engineered hybrid blackberries mixed with the strong flavor of coffee makes for an unforgettable stadium-snack experience. Not a BBQ fan? We recommend trying this Oregon classic anyway—it’s that good.
Boise State: Donuts And Coffee (Albertsons Stadium)
It's a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in November in Boise. You’re bundled in your finest winter jacket, wool scarf, fuzzy mittens and over-the-top, orange-and-blue earmuffs. What could possibly warm you even more? A cup of joe and some miniature donuts, of course! These bite-size snacks come paired with a variety of sweet dipping sauces. Cheers to the person who not only thought, “Boy, I could use coffee and donuts to get through the fourth quarter of this Broncos game,’ but also to the person who put that concept into practice. We salute your culinary expertise, and know that Boise State fans couldn’t agree more.