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September 18, 2018

2018 NFL press box food spread ratings

Eagles NFL
081818EaglesTailgate Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

OK, so this is tailgate food, not press box food, but shut up.

Throughout the season, we'll be posting press box food spread rankings for each of the Philadelphia Eagles' road games. This is probably of no interest to you if you're a sane human being, and, well, I don't care. I'm doing this anyway.


What'd they have? Pregame, they had Caesar salad, various pasta salads, turkey and Italian hoagies, roasted veggies, chicken, New England clam chowder, cookies, fruit, Häagen Dazs ice cream bars, and Häagen Dazs ice cream. At halftime, they had some chicken Caesar wraps, and added a few different kinds of brownies.

Throughout the year, it will just be assumed that every team has bottled water, a soda machine, and coffee, unless otherwise noted.

What'd I have? Pregame, I had the Ceasar salad, and added chicken to it, two cookies (one with chocolate and peanut butter chips, and one chocolate cookie), and a tiny thing of ice cream, which was melted. It was almost like doing a shot of liquid ice cream, which was actually really good. At halftime, I had a chicken Caesar wrap and a brownie.

Grade: Overall, the food was good, but the pregame Caesar salad paired with the chicken Caesar wrap at halftime is some pretty uninspired repetitiveness. Still, not a bad effort for the preseason. I’ll give them a B+.


What'd they have? Pregame, they had a salad bar, bruschetta chicken, penne bolognese, green beans w/tomatoes, rice pilaf, beer brats, hot dogs, popcorn, and some assorted cakes and cookies. At halftime, they had giant pretzels. Postgame, they had mozzarella sticks and chicken wings.

What'd I have? Pregame, I had the bruschetta chicken, penne bolognese, and rice. I also had a hot dog, because it's a common press box food, and I felt like the hot dog would help me differentiate from other press boxes. And I also managed to shove both a chocolate chip cookie and a piece of red velvet cake into my face. 

The chicken was tough, the penne bolognese was watery, the hot dog was just bad, and the cookie was arguably the worst of all the press box cookies in the NFL that I've tried. On the bright side, the rice pilaf was OK, as was the red velvet cake.

At halftime, I had the giant pretzel, and meh, it was OK. I think the perceived appeal of it is that it's huge. Unfortunately, being a big pretzel is less important than being a good pretzel. Anyone can go back for seconds, so my preference would be to have a normal-sized pretzel, and if I really want to eat like I'm in a shame spiral, I can go back for more.

Postgame, I could tell the mozzarella stick was going to be awful, and it was. It's hard to mess up mozzarella sticks. Then again, it's hard to mis-evaluate Carson Wentz as badly as the Browns (and Cian Fahey) did. But ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The wings looked equally gross, so I didn't even bother getting my fingers messy to try one.

Grade: I give the Browns credit for having a some variety. I remember covering the Eagles-Browns Week 1 game back in 2012, and they had little more than a basket of fruit. However, the food itself was mostly bad, and the setup was even worse.

The food was in this room in which the line went to the left upon entry. The first thing in the line is the salad bar, which takes the longest amount of time among any of the press box foods. You'll have some dude getting individual pieces of lettuce with tongs, and then croutons, and then carrots, and then cucumbers, and then chopped up hard boiled eggs, and then dressing, etc etc. It just takes forever.

Normally, you'd be able to just skip ahead of the salad dorks, but that's not an option in Cleveland, because the line extends outside the door. You can't just walk into the room ahead of everyone else in line and be line, "Nah, it's cool. I'm just getting a hot dog, bro." Your ass is waiting in that line whether you want salad or not. Diagram here:


A much more line-friendly setup would be to switch the salad with the hot dogs. 

Anyway, I'll give the Browns a D+.


What'd they have? Pregame, they had southern andouille sausage, roast beef, chicken with peppers and onions, buttermilk mashed potatoes, hoagies (Italian, turkey), salad, potato salad, cole slaw, cookies, brownies, popcorn, and various snackies (Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, and Lays chips). They also said they were going to have carved turkey, but that never showed up.

At halftime, there was more of the same, but they also had cake on a stick, as well as banana's foster.

Postgame, they had nothing, and they even took away the coffee setup, a huge no-no in my book.

What'd I have? I'll go bullet-point form for the pregame food, since there were so many things to try:

• The chicken was... interesting. It was buried under a pile of peppers and onions, which gave it nice flavor and tasted good, but it looked gross. Because of the added moisture from sitting in an aluminum pan and then the UFO-shaped serving thing, the chicken skin shriveled up, and looked like when you get prune hands from staying in the water too long, as shown here:


That look is fine if it's fried chicken, but it looks and feels gross if it's not crispy. 

• The roast beef didn't look good either, but it was.

• I had a piece of Italian hoagie, which wasn't good. Super dry, little flavor. Coming from Philly, I'm spoiled by good hoagies, so I won't hold that against them too much, though maybe the Bucs should just reconsider offering it at all going forward. That reminded me of the one year WASTEAM had cheesesteaks the week they played the Eagles. I'm guessing they offered cheesesteaks because it was "Philly week," which is dumb. Don't do what the visiting team already does well. Just do you. (That cheesesteak was one of the worst things I've ever bitten into, in case you were wondering.)

• The southern andouille sausage was very good. Good flavor, and had a little heat to it.

• To note, I'm not a potato salad guy, but Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia gave it a thumbs up. "It tastes just like my grandmother's," Frank said, while also making clear he meant that in a complimentary way.

• I also skipped the salad, because there's just so much for me to eat, and I can't gum up the works with empty vitamins and minerals. "It's fine for a press box salad, but nothing special," said Eliot Shorr-Parks of WIP.

• At halftime, I had the cake on a stick. To note, I don't know if that's what they call it, but that's essentially what it was. It was cake, you know, on a stick, with sort of a hard shell coating. It looked kind of like a candy apple, but... good. I chose the pink one with rainbow sprinkles, because it matched my shirt. My daughter likes her nighttime stuffed animal to match her pajamas, and she likes the color of her snacks to match her shirt, so I now do the same if it makes sense, and in this case, it did. And it was awesome.

Update: I'm told by multiple readers that I was probably eating a "cake pop." After googling cake pops, I can confirm that that is correct.

• There was a long-ass line for the bananas foster, and I had work to do at halftime, so I did what I had to do and checked back a little later when I thought the line would be smaller. As it turned out, there was no line, because there was no more bananas foster. Boooooo! Zach Berman of the Inquirer had some though. 

“I feel confident saying this is the best banana foster I’ve ever had in a press box,” he said.

Grade: As noted above, taking away the coffee postgame is not good. The Eagles do this too, and I don't know why. Just leave it there. What's the rush? Anyway, that lack of postgame coffee sullied what was otherwise a pretty decent spread, overall. I'll give the Bucs a B-.

Next up: Eagles

Season, to date

 RankTeam Grade 
 1Patriots B+ 
 2Buccaneers B- 
 3Browns D+ 

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