Fast Food

Findings Show that Despite all New Food Options, the Hamburger and Hot Dog Still Reign Supreme When it Comes to Football Tailgates

Today, Hormel Foods Corporation ( NYSE: HRL), a Fortune 500 global branded food company, shared the results of its latest national consumer survey about tailgating preferences and etiquette. The anticipation and excitement of tailgating are reaching a fevered height, as consumers return to their favorite pre-pandemic routines. The nationwide survey of 5,000 consumers was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Hormel Foods, which sought a comprehensive look at habits and routines around the occasion, as the company is always assessing, listening to, and evaluating current consumer interests and trends.

Hormel Foods provides game-day food staples and wanted to learn about consumers’ preferences and behaviors as we return to pre-pandemic tailgating rituals.

While overall results revealed compelling insights into the ways sports fans celebrate their favorite teams through food, the state-by-state responses to some questions were unexpected. From the perfect tailgate snack to food choices providing insight into a person’s character, it is clear that consumers feel strongly that types of food and cooking methods greatly impact the tailgate experience.

“Just as sports fans are passionate about rituals around their favorite teams on game day, many feel the same way about tailgating,” said Deanna Brady, an executive vice president for Hormel Foods. “Burgers and hot dogs are popular staples, and a desire for portability and finger foods are key survey findings that highlight the need for ease. Our extensive snacking and entertaining portfolio aligns perfectly with consumers’ wishes for tasty and convenient solutions as part of their tailgating experience.”

Key Findings


The majority of those polled (42%) said that arriving to tailgate one to two hours before game time is the sweet spot for celebrating the community and traditions of their favorite sports teams. Furthermore, once on premises, tailgaters have lofty expectations when it comes to food choices. In fact, three-quarters (72%) of respondents agreed that the food selection can make or break the tailgate, while well over half (62%) confessed that what someone brings to the tailgate says a lot about them. Perhaps that’s the reason almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents are likely to bring their favorite dish, regardless of whether others enjoy it.

And if someone fails to bring a dish to share? Nearly half of those polled said that person would not be invited back (46%), a sentiment felt especially among those living in Michigan and
New Jersey (58%).

Tailgating Jobs

“Grill master” is the most coveted job to have at a tailgating event. The survey found 29% believe working the grill to be the best job while tailgating, while 25% opt for “side dish taster” or “game hype man” (23%).

Popular Tailgating Foods

Burgers (66%) and hot dogs (56%) ranked highest among those polled as the best foods to bring to a tailgate, and the worst, by far, included ice cream and popsicles (41%) with pie ranked next (24%).

Food Choices

It may come as no surprise that portability (58%) and ease of cooking (56%) ranked high in choosing the perfect tailgate snack, as well as the ability for people to eat with their hands (finger foods 47%). The versatility (31%) of food options also ranked high in importance when planning the perfect spread.

Survey respondents from Rhode Island were more likely to make a recipe ahead of time for the tailgate (42%) while those from California, Colorado, and Tennessee were more likely to bring something premade (32%). And where do most people find their favorite recipes? 64% answered through their family and friends.

In addition, nearly 50% of respondents noted that they will make and bring a turkey dish to the tailgate around Thanksgiving.

Cooking Methods

As for the most popular cooking methods, most said portable grill (67%) and traditional outdoor grill (49%), with more than a third choosing the slow cooker (38%) – especially if they live in South Dakota (56%).

Onsite Activities

In addition to eating and drinking while tailgating, 71% of fans also like socializing but only with other fans, 69% enjoyed listening to music, and 61% want to capture the day by taking photos.

To review all of the survey’s findings, please visit

Hormel Foods offers easy solutions for tailgaters across the country from brands like PLANTERS®, COLUMBUS®, SKIPPY®, WHOLLY® Guacamole, and BLACK LABEL®. For more recipe inspiration or information about the Hormel Foods family of brands, visit or follow us on social media.

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