By some accounts, the first tailgate party in history occurred early in the Civil War, just before the First Battle of Bull Run (also called the Battle of Manassas). Northern spectators packed picnics, piled into wagons and parked along the bluff a few miles from the battlefield. As do many of today's tailgaters, some of whom don't bother going to the game afterward, these Union backers came more for the festivities than the fighting. And, as is the case with some modern fans, tailgating proved to be the best part of their day. At Bull Run, the Confederates routed the Yankees in an upset for the ages.
Today, the game doesn't determine the fate of a nation. It's the tailgating that can be disastrous -- if guests bring ill-chosen edibles to the parking lot potluck. Even in the "anything goes" atmosphere of tailgating, not everything goes.
For example, bringing food contaminated with bacteria that sickens your friends is sure to get you uninvited to the next party. Also, no one wants to find tomato sauce stains on a pricey, officially licensed NFL jacket after high-fiving to celebrate the home team. Neatness counts, even here.
Finally, some things can lead to trouble with the law -- and consequences that hurt for a lifetime.
Take this article as a rule book outlining what to do and not do concerning tailgate-party food. We tackle the most serious infraction first: the alcohol issue.