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Where I Come From: Penn State Tailgating Traditions

This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.

Everybody knows that taking in a Penn State football game in Beaver Stadium is only half of the fun. Penn State fans are serious about their tailgating. So much so that a fair number of fans go to State College on an autumn Saturday just to party and don't even bother going into the game.

Our tailgate party gets started well before the sun comes up when I meet up with PSUncle and the Kling-man in Jersey Shore, PA sometime around 6 AM. We cruise up to State College and we're usually rolling up the hill to our tailgating spot behind Medlar Field sometime just after 7 AM. Within ten minutes of parking we have our tables set up, the munchies spread out, and the first Captain and Coke mixed just in time to watch the sun rise over Mount Nittany.

Now, by this time I'm usually starving, and that first Captain and Coke doesn't sit too well on an empty stomach. A favorite tailgating dish of mine is Kling-man's spam, egg, and cheese sandwiches. After I get a couple of those puppies in my belly I can tackle the world.  I'll share the recipe at the end of the post.

The rest of our tailgate party is pretty low key. We mostly just hang around talking about Penn State football and retelling old war stories. For the late games PSUncle will usually smoke some kind of meat for dinner. Usually it's a turkey, but last year he smoked some BBQ ribs that were the envy of everyone within sight of our tailgate. Maybe he'll share some of his smoking techniques in the comments.

We like to socialize with visiting fans every chance we get. When we see some walking by we'll call them over and offer them some beer or food. It's always fun to talk to visiting fans to get their impressions of Penn State. I remember a few years ago we parked next to some Michigan guys that were a lot of fun to tailgate with. They all flew in for the game from different parts of the county. They didn't have any gear, so their tailgate party basically consisted of a bag of Doritos, a case of Naty Light, and a bottle of whiskey. This was for a game that started at 8 PM, and since they parked next to us they were there at 7 AM as well. They managed to buy a second hand bottle of something to pass around after their alcohol was gone, but it didn't take long before they were out of food. But they were pretty cool guys. After a few hours our two tailgates were pretty much combined into one. They were mooching our food and beer, but we didn't mind. We always bring way more than we ever eat. They were especially appreciative of PSUncle's smoked turkey sandwiches.

So that's how we roll when we tailgate in the 814. How do you like to do it?

Kling-man's Spam Sandwich Recipe

  1. Set up the grill and get it heating up.
  2. Open the can of spam and dump it out on a plate. Be careful not to read the ingredients. (WTH is "mechanically-separated chicken" anyway?) Then slice the span into quarter-inch slices. You can probably make five or six sandwiches out of a can.
  3. Once the grill is hot, throw the spam on there and flip it frequently.
  4. Take out the eggs and throw them on the grill and heat them up. KLING-MAN TIP: Cook your eggs the day before at home in a frying pan and bring them to the tailgate party in a resealable container. We like to cook them until the yolks are hard, but I guess you could scramble them and cook them omelet style if you want to. But BSD claims no responsibility if you elect to scramble your eggs and your spam sandwich sucks. That's on you, bud.
  5. When it looks like the spam is a minute or two away from being done, cut an English Muffin in half and toast it on the grill.
  6. You could try melting the cheese on the spam, but Kling-man doesn't like getting his grill messy (wuss!) so we usually just put a cold slice of cheese on there.
  7. When the spam is cooked, put it all together, man. The best part of spam sandwiches is you can mix and match them to your taste. You can do spam, eggs, and cheese. Or you can do spam, egg, cheese, and spam. Or you can do spam, spam, eggs, and spam. Or you can do spam, spam, spam, eggs, spam, spam, spam, cheese, and spam. The options are limitless, really.