Food & Drink: February 2024

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Halftime Culinary Lineup

On February 11, the Super Bowl will take place in Las Vegas, the first time the city has ever hosted the big game. Most of us who want to see the game will do so from the comfort of our own couches, or maybe with a raucous crowd at a sports bar. If you want to see the game in person, that’s a possibility, but tickets at StubHub start at about $6,000, and buying directly through the NFL, via Ticketmaster, will set you back at least $10,000 for a single seat.

This year’s game is Super Bowl LVIII. (That’s 58; I had to look it up.) Originally called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, the contest was rebranded as the Super Bowl in 1969. Prior to that game, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath boldly predicted that his team would beat the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts, and indeed they did, taking a 16-7 win in front of 75,389 fans at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The most expensive tickets to that game cost $12.

I talk about this and a lot more in a Mass Media and Pop Culture class I teach at Baylor. I always schedule this lesson during the week following the Super Bowl, and it’s one of my favorite topics to discuss during the semester. I could get another week’s worth of material if we talked about the advertisements that are shown during the game, but I like to concentrate on the halftime show. I talk about how the halftime show for many years consisted of college marching bands and singing groups such as Up With People.

The 1980s saw older performers such as Chubby Checker during the show, and it wasn’t until the New Kids on the Block sang during the 1991 game that current entertainers began headlining halftime. The Super Bowl halftime show turned into the spectacle we know today beginning in 1993, when Michael Jackson popped up on the stage and stood motionless for 1 minute and 32 seconds in front of 98,374 people at the Rose Bowl and 133.4 million television viewers before beginning his performance.

During class, we watch a few minutes of Jackson’s show, and clips from earlier halftime shows, then we watch the entire show from the game just a few days prior. We talk about what students liked or didn’t like about the performance, and then I talk to them about the 2007 game, which was played in Dolphin Stadium in Miami. The Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, but the football action was just a backdrop to Prince’s 12-minute, rain-soaked halftime performance. The show’s producers had suggested that Prince might want to perform to pre-recorded tracks and lip sync his show due to the weather. “I’m Prince. I’m gonna play live,” was his response.

As the stage was being wheeled out onto the field prior to the show, it ran over and cut in two a cable that provided power to the stage. Tony Ward, a member of the lighting crew, stripped the insulation from the cable and knelt on the field, holding the cable into an outlet for the duration of the performance.

Prince’s performance was, without question, the greatest halftime show ever, and in doing research for this class, I’ve watched almost every one of them. There are a couple from the early ‘70s that I can’t find.

For those who were not in Miami for the 2007 game, Indiana-based economic development strategist and former chef Scott Hutcheson said he was making a slider-sized ribeye steak sandwich, based on a recipe from the Indiana Beef Cattle Association. For a more recent Super Bowl fete, Chicago Magazine food writer Carly Boers recommended flavored popcorn, gourmet pigs-in-a-blanket and Cheez-It cupcakes.

We’ve combined a couple of Boers’ recommendations and offer a recipe for Cheeto Caramel Popcorn for your game day spread. Pair that with Cheesy Bacon Twists and beer with a kick at wacoan.com.

The Recipes

Cheesy Bacon Twists

  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 20-22 bacon strips
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes

Heat oven to 400. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll the pastry sheets with the wide end facing you. Sprinkle on the cheddar cheese. Arrange the bacon on top of the cheese, so that it’s almost touching but not overlapping. Slice the pastry into strips, between each piece of bacon. Gently pick up each strip of pastry and twist the ends in opposite directions until you have a complete twist.

Place the twists on the baking sheets, leaving some room between as they tend to expand. Brush with the whisked egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the bacon is crips.

While the twists are baking, make the dip. Place the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, sour cream, mustard and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the cheese melts and the mixture is thick. Add the beer, then simmer gently for 5 minutes. Pour into a heatproof serving dish, then place under broiler until the top is slightly charred. Sprinkle with parsley and chili flakes and serve. Makes about 20 twists.

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Cheeto Caramel Corn

  • 1 bag (9 ounces) Cheetos
  • 8 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Spray a large baking pan with nonstick spray. Add the Cheetos and popcorn.

Heat oven to 250.
In a heavy saucepan, add the sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and baking soda and stir.

Pour the mixture over the popcorn and stir until the popcorn is well-coated. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Pour the popcorn out onto wax or parchment paper and let cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes a lot of servings.

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Michelada

  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch celery salt
  • 1 bottle Mexican lager beer, chilled
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

Add equal parts salt and cayenne pepper to a plate or shallow bowl. Rub the lime wedge along half the rim of the pint glass and then dip the rim into the salt-cayenne mixture.

Add the lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, black pepper and celery salt into the glass. Fill with the beer and garnish with a lime wedge. Makes 1 drink.

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