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SUPER BOWL 2018: Now for the biggest decision

Somewhere, possibly in your own neighborhood, people are dying vegetables and rolls in team colors, shaping filled pizza dough into footballs, and baking a cake in the shape of a football stadium. They imported lobsters from Boston and shipped in real Philadelphia soft pretzels. They will have an ice sculpture with the logos of both teams flanking the Lombardi trophy.

Those people spent weeks planning a Super Bowl menu that captures the flavor of New England and Philadelphia in every detail, right down to the blue and green umbrellas in your choice of green or red cocktails.

An amazing Super Bowl Platter
An amazing Super Bowl Platter

Those people are insane.

That’s not to say food isn’t important. There were a couple of years I was forced to watch the game alone and I still invested more than a few dollars in little pizzas, hot dogs in a pastry, and chicken fingers.

So what will we eat during Super Bowl LII?

For the exceptionally lazy fans

Back in 1924, Clarence Birdseye figured out how to rapidly freeze foods to last a long time. He wasted his invention on vegetables. Fortunately, someone else started freezing things like pizza rolls, mini-pizzas, and pizza. You can also find frozen potato skins, mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, and enough other items have a nice variety of quick and easy football snacks.

Don’t forget to swing by the baked goods section for a cake with a plastic football on it.

For fans who mean well, but ran out of time

Two words: take out. One season, my family surprised me by showing up for the game at the last minute. I was saved by a local pizzeria who had a couple of pies, a mountain of chicken wings, cheeses sticks, and garlic knots at my door in 40 minutes.

Basic Super Bowl fare
Basic Super Bowl fare

It’s okay to stay basic and traditional with pizza and wings. Throw in a few bowls of chips and cheese puffs and make sure you don’t run out of drinks and you’ll be fine. If you’re not sure how the guests are taking it, be sure to casually mention what a hectic week you had.

For the friends who know you didn’t have a hectic week

There’s no getting around it. You’ll have to get creative. The key is to trick your guests into thinking the takeout food is something else.

You can cut a pizza into thin slices and lopped off the edges. Then roll each slice and pop a toothpick into it. Now you have “homemade” pizza rolls to serve.

Then, have the local burger joint deliver a bunch of burgers. Cut a one-inch round hole in the center of each burger. Eat the centers and cut the remaining rings into 6-8 pieces. With a toothpick in each section, you have super-mini sliders!

Submarine sandwiches can be cut long-ways down the middle and sliced into 2-inch pieces. Put a toothpick in each of them so you have… small sandwich things.

The thing is if you cut up anything and stick a toothpick in it, it becomes an hors-d'oeuvres.

Sometimes, you have to go to the grocery store

If your friends expect a more thought-out Super Bowl menu, you’re in luck. Philadelphia and New England aren’t exactly the culinary capitals of the world.

New England is most associated with seafood and beans. Chowder is not a Super Bowl food, so the fish can be covered with lobsters, crab, or even plain fish cakes. Save money and time by buying pieces, not whole lobsters and crabs.

Look online for a lobster roll recipe, which is basically lobster and either butter or mayonnaise. Forget about the roll part. Put the inside ingredients together and place it between small pieces of bread or in a dinner roll. You can call it a lobster roll slider. You can do the same thing with crab meat.

no part of the table should be visible
no part of the table should be visible

While at the grocery store, buy some fancy French fries like waffle fries. Then buy some small fish sticks or cakes. Cook them separately, then put them together with toothpicks or serve in a little French-fry sack. Call it mini-fish and chips. For added flavor, add lemon, hollandaise sauce, or tomato.

As far as beans go, don’t be a hero. Buy a couple of cans of the expensive, fancy baked beans. Put them in a bowl and bury those cans at the bottom of your trash. There are so many Boston Baked Beans recipes, no one outside of Boston will ever know.

Philadelphia loves their cheese steaks, which are basically chopped up strips of beef, grilled to a nice brown smothered with cheese, peppers, and onions and placed in a nice long roll. You can make actual cheese steaks, or you can make a fancier cheese steak dip.

For the dip, put a layer of cream cheese in a baking dish and cover it with the beef, onions, peppers, and cheese. Then put some extra cheese on it and place in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted and the inside is warm. (It will be less greasy if you brown the meat first.) For looks, you can stick some pieces of long roll along the edges. Serve it with pieces of bread or chips.

If you can find soft pretzel dough, slice them open and fill them with anything before baking. Cheeses work best, but salami is also very good.

Sandwiches more your speed? Buy a lot of long rolls. Make some chicken strip sandwiches and some sausage and pepper versions. These represent New England grinders. Make a few Italian long roll sandwiches with ham, salami, and provolone. You can make some cheese steaks, too., Those would represent Philadelphia hoagies.

Fill in the empty spots of your table with nachos, dips, and maybe a cheese platter and you have a quick and easy themed Super Bowl menu. What time should I come over?