A Hockey Fan’s Food Checklist for the Big Game
You look forward to attending a hockey game for three main reasons. The first is the opportunity to support the team you love in person. The second is the camaraderie of being in the presence of people who support the same team as you do. The third reason is the delicious snacks you get to feast on as you soak in all the live action.
In fact, the food you eat can greatly enhance your overall experience of the game. Of course, different people will have different culinary preferences. Nevertheless, it’s hard to go wrong with the following on your menu (all of which can be found at Gretzky’s Toronto Sports Bar).
#1. Juicy Burgers
Why burgers? First, they are cheap. Second, a burger fills your belly just as much as (if not more than) a trout filet or many other more expensive meals would. A burger will almost invariably come with a generous serving of fries so you are actually getting two meals for the price of one.
But perhaps even more important than attractive pricing is that burgers are easy to eat. The meat is already ground up so you aren’t left with much chewing to do. No cutting is needed.
Then there’s the obvious—familiarity. Few meals are more quintessentially North American. The charred meat, the barbequed taste, and the unmistakable aroma conjure memories of birthday parties and family get-togethers from our childhood. A burger places you in a comfortable mental space giving you the fresh, reassuring mindset needed to enjoy the game.
#2. Hot Wings
In the week leading to the Stanley Cup final, millions of chicken wings are consumed across Canada and the wider North America.
You’ll perhaps be a little disappointed to learn that there’s no glitzy origin story of how the continent fell in love with hot wings. But this is perhaps also a positive—the love for the wing as a spectator snack is largely a matter of convenience and settling. As boneless breast soared in popularity, sports bars started to serve chicken wings since they could get them fairly cheaply.
Wings are more easily shareable by a large group of people when served on a single plate. They can also maintain their appearance despite spending extended periods of time on a plate (unlike pizza or ribs). Wings have therefore come to signify togetherness, team spirit and the promise of good times.
Of course, none of this would be possible if hot wings weren’t so delicious.
#3. Mean Poutine
Burgers and wings are North American staples. Poutine though is uniquely Canadian. It’s slowly making its mark across the world perhaps because it ticks all the right boxes. It’s familiar (everyone knows French fries) but also new (adding an unexpected twist with the cheese curd). Poutine is filling, adaptable and cheap.
While it’s thick and gloopy appearance can be a bit of a turnoff for first timers, the mix of French fries, cheese curd and meat gravy is pleasantly unforgettable. That’s why it’s popularity has grown with each subsequent generation of Canadians. Originally, a late night drinking snack that was the perfect accompaniment for booze, its transition to becoming a fixture of major sports events in Canada feels like a natural progression.
#4. Loaded Nachos
Did you know that November 6 is National Nacho Day in the US? That’s how deeply embedded in North American culture this Mexican delicacy has become. So much so that it’s hard to imagine a sports stadium today that doesn’t have at least a sizeable proportion of fans feasting on nachos. And once you taste nachos, it’s easy to see why they’ve taken sports by storm.
They’re the perfect combination of saucy, gooey and crunchy. They’re versatile—there’s a suitable nachos recipe for virtually every person out there. You can omit ingredients you don’t like and top them with whatever tickles your fancy. Nachos are to be eaten with the hands so perfect for sports viewing since utensils are an inconvenience you can do without.
#5. Brews for the Crew
Are you really watching a major hockey game if there’s no beer to go with it? But why beer and not liquor or wine? Well, since beer has a much lower alcohol content, it’s the drink of moderation when friendly social interaction is needed. Beer means you are less likely to be aggressive or be sucked into the downsides associated with stronger beverages.
It’s the drink of choice when celebrating a win with friends so what better place to do that than at a big game. So irrespective of the snack you choose (burgers, nachos, poutine and/or chicken wings), it won’t feel complete without a nice cold Canadian beer.
Remember, your choice of what to eat is as much a part of your big game spectator experience as what happens on the floor of the hockey rink.