Happy Friday, everyone! Wondering what happened to your Power Poll this week? Or your Tarts? I’m not really sure either, last time I checked, it was Monday, and uh, now somehow it’s not?
Anyway, I’m behind in everything this week, and so, for this week’s Power Poll, we rely on that popular way for the time-crunched and disorganized to feed the masses—the Potluck. Now, OTE is no stranger to “potlucks”—you probably remember them from our summer coverage of each and every team. What can we say? We’re Midwesterners. Of course we love the idea of cramming in potlucks wherever we can. Bring on the casseroles!
I’m a big potluck fan myself. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve tried to throw a dinner party where I just took care of the whole meal myself. For one, I spent all of my twenties in grad school, so I and everyone I knew was broke AF. For another thing, who needs that kind of stress? One time my ex and I tried to have my best friend and her husband over for dinner. We attempted to make some kind of shredded BBQ chicken in my off-brand crock pot. Then we went somewhere. We returned to the blackest chicken you’ve ever seen, impressively bonded to the walls of the “crock pot” like some kind of shredded tar. I don’t remember how we solved that dilemma—probably ordered pizza and rejoiced the apartment didn’t burn down.
All this to say, screw dinner parties, and long live potlucks!
So, in the true spirit of potlucks, you get a little of everything this week, a total blank check—if your team were a food, what would it be? No theme beyond that—would we end up with fourteen bags of potato chips? Numerous inedible casseroles? Too many salads with iceberg lettuce that no one wants to eat? Roll the dice, and see what your team ended up with.
Special thanks to White Speed Reciever for making the graphs and putting an awful lot of this together so I didn’t have to.
1) Ohio State - Buckeyes
First Place Votes: 15 High: 1 Low: 1 Last Week: 1
Boilerman31: I’ll nominate Buckeyes for Ohio State. They’re like an earlier version of Reese’s Cups, which people either love or hate. If you’re a Northwestern fan or allergic to peanuts, they’ll kill you every time.
There’s another way this is the perfect choice for OSU. If you go to the trouble of making Buckeyes only to place them anonymously on the potluck table to be gobbled up by greedy, ungrateful children who don’t fully appreciate them, you have tried way too hard. Like, “Great Cheryl, I’m super glad you had five extra hours in your day to make 72 buckeyes for the potluck. I brought chips.” Similarly, this season has seen a rash of Buckeye fans determined to try way too hard to find a dramatic angle for their team’s dominance. “Well uh, they could lose to Nebraska! I don’t know how, but they might.” Yeah sure.
Just shut up and go make us some more of those chocolate-coated calorie bombs, ok?
2) Penn State - Pizza
H: 2 L: 8 (WTF?!) LW: 3
pkloa: Pizza time! The Penn State Nittany Lions are the embodiment of pizza. Sometimes they are really good and leave you satisfied. Other times, though, they’re limp and soggy and you spend the rest of the night in the bathroom.Like our Lions, pizza has a basic look to it. Crust, sauce, and cheese are the equivalent to Blue and White. Don’t forget the toppings: pepperoni, sausage, anchovies, chainz, Jonathan Sutherland’s hair, the occasional helmet numbers and pant stripes. So rejoice! Just as you cheer when the doorbell rings with that fresh hot delivery, so should you cheer for a Lions victory over Ohi- dammit, still have to face them?
This one’s a little trickier—as a child, there was nothing better than the person who just phoned it and brought pizza so that you didn’t have to eat some mystery casserole or “hamloaf.” But as an adult, your feelings are a bit more mixed about the whole thing—if I went to the trouble of making “Easy Two-Ingredient Kabocha Squash Hummus,” shouldn’t you have mustered more than a Hot ‘n Ready?
3) Minnesota - Pulled Pork
H: 2 L: 6 LW: 2
WhiteSpeedReceiver: Just like Gopher Football this fall, there are very few things that you can find at a potluck that are better than pulled pork. When well done, it’s just awesome and delicious and reasonably easy. And when it goes wrong? Well...well everyone gets sick and there’s...ummm...digestive issues. Also like Gopher Football? If you’ve got pulled pork, then you probably don’t have a pig.
At first I was mad at WSR for going full homersota on this one, giving the Gophers something so obviously awesome. But I’ll be honest, that last line does a lot of the heavy lifting this year. So go ahead, Gophers—after years of being Jell-O with carrots, you’re finally pulled pork in 2019. Good work.
4) wisconsin - “Not Fucking Cheese For Once” (Horseradish)
H: 2 L: 6 LW: 4
Beez: I am nominating Wisconsin to be horseradish, because (a) it’s not fucking cheese for once, and (b) Wisconsin, and my hometown specifically, is home to the world’s largest producer of horseradish! Here are two articles that talk about it, but the important takeaway is apparently you can buy 400-pound drums of horseradish!
I just want to go on record and say that I think fucking cheese even once is one time too many, Beez, but I am glad that Wisconsin is seeing improvement in this area. Also, bringing a condiment to a potluck and thinking you’ve made your contribution really does seem like something a Badger fan would do.
Anyway, that second article had some very interesting horseradish facts:
- Horseradish has been used as an aphrodisiac, cough medicine, treatment for rheumatism and to relieve headaches.
- Germans named the root meerretich, which means “sea radish,” because it was grown near water.
- In England, horseradish was used in a liqueur to invigorate tired travelers.
- Horseradish is planted and harvested by hand.
- Horseradish has 2 calories per teaspoon.
That last one means that horseradish is undoubtedly the healthiest thing ever consumed by any Wisconsinite, ever.
5) Michigan - Creamy Zesty “Cheese” Dip
H: 3 L: 7 LW: 5
I almost just skipped over Michigan as an homage to the totally cool and definitely smart way members of their team are overlooking Indiana, but decided even I am not that ridiculous. Anyway, I found Michigan in perfect food form: Creamy Zesty “Cheese” Dip.
At first, this seems promising. Maybe not Top Ten quality, but some will be inclined to rank it there, no matter what else is on offer. Still, we all like a nice cheesy dip. And that “zesty” part sounds new and different! Could this be Michigan’s year?
Wait a minute. Those quotation marks around “Cheese” are not accidental:
Make this sauce at your own risk: It’s smoky, tart flavor is absolutely addictive, and once you try it, it’ll be hard to stop smothering your veggies, burritos, nachos, baked potatoes, and salads. It’s your new favorite cheese sauce, except it’s magically dairy free, thanks to the creaminess of blended cashews!
Oh, FFS Michigan! OF COURSE you’d take something delicious and foolproof like
great recruits and unlimited resources cheese sauce, layer it up with pretension and unwarranted hype, and end up with something completely unremarkable to everyone except its originators.
If you’re a Michigan fan, you might be a bad person. If you tell people you’re bringing “cheesy” dip and you bring blended cashews instead, you are definitely a bad person.
6) Iowa - Meatloaf
H: 4 L: 6 LW: 6
StewMonkey13: Iowa is meatloaf. It’s quintessentially midwestern. Is never going to be the best dish and never the worst, but can be solid when made correctly. It’s slow, boring, and can be a bit hard to digest, just sitting in your stomach, but also quite filling.
I have to disagree a bit here, because while it’s true that meatloaf is never the worst, Iowa is, in fact, The Worst.
“Jests” aside, this is a pretty good pick for Iowa. It’s reliable and inoffensive, like Iowa, and it never, ever misses a potluck.
7) Indiana - Pork Chop
H: 6 L:8 LW: 7
Candystripes: I honestly have no idea for Indiana. I feel like it has to be something that only tastes good when cooked perfectly; if it’s undercooked, it’ll make you sick, but if it’s overcooked, it’s also utterly unpalatable.
Beez: I think Indiana is more along the lines of “starts out as something you’re really excited about eating, but it gets kinda gross once you’ve had more than a couple bites” like marshmallows or Jell-O.
BRT: Marshmallows or Jell-O? Gross? Do you even Midwestern, Beez?
Boiler: Pork Chop
Yup, that’s it. It’s really tough to get a pork chop right. And it’s really hard to get Indiana football right too, leading to innumerable “almost great” moments. Could this be the weekend?
8) Illinois - Mysterious Sweet Potato Dish
H: 7 L: 9 LW: 8
Thumpasaurus: Illinois is a mysterious sweet potato dish. Is it good? Is it bad? It’s certainly not essential, but it’s quite orange. Are those marshmallows? What the hell is going on here? Some may love it while others are just confused by it, but it’s certainly interesting to have around.
Mystery sweet potatoes. What hath Lovie wrought.
9) Michigan State - Watergate Salad
H: 8 L: 12 LW: 10
Time was, Watergate Salad was the queen of the potluck—it was quick to make, a real bargain, and a crowd-pleaser. For the uninitiated (people from Maryland and New Jersey, I guess), it’s a simple combo of pistachio pudding mix + canned pineapple + mini marshmallows + chopped nuts + Cool Whip = potluck success!
For a time, MSU similarly ruled the Big Ten—it was a bargain compared to the traditional giants of the conference, and people ate up the idea of Mark Magictonio. But recently, it seems that the old recipe is... tired. It simply doesn’t work anymore. Where once everyone eagerly scooped it onto their plates, now it’s a rare under-40 who will touch the stuff.
Nevertheless, in fellowship halls across the Midwest, there’s a little old woman still bringing Watergate Salad to every potluck, because she has always done it in the past, and there’s no reason to change. Mildred has always, and will always bring Watergate Salad, because that’s who she is. And Mark Dantonio is a Mildred.
Also, both Watergate Salad and increasingly, MSU, are a really weird color of green.
10) Purdue - Swiss Cheese
H: 9 L: 12 LW: 9
Boilerman31: Purdue is Swiss Cheese. Looks appealing enough. Goes great on sandwiches but with all the holes left from injuries, anything with a decent offense can find a way through it.
On the one hand, who brings swiss cheese as their offering to a potluck? On the other hand, according to Beez, Wisconsin is no longer fucking cheese, so this might turn out to be an extremely wise choice for Purdue.
11) Nebraska - Egg Salad Sandwiches
H: 9 L: 12 LW: 11
This one is pretty specific to a church potluck, rather than a potluck among friends. Growing up, every potluck I went to always had a pile of sandwiches at the end of the buffet—egg salad always featured, with the occasional ham salad. Sliced in half on white bread, they were assembled and placed there by some ever-prepared church ladies, who wanted to make sure that if the ladies of the church lost their collective shit and didn’t bring enough main dishes to the potluck, well, no one would go hungry, at least.
But no one’s there for the egg salad sandwiches, and by the time you’ve made your way down the line, you’re probably not too interested in picking one up. Maybe if you’re really hungry.
Nebraska is the egg salad sandwich supply of the potluck. It has a purpose, ostensibly, but it never really manages to bring much to the party, and few are really buying what it’s selling anymore.
12) Maryland—Tuna Casserole
H: 11 L: 12 LW: 12
Now, as we all know (weirdos from Minnesota excepted—NO, it is not a hotdish, please get over that) potlucks are more than safe spaces for casseroles, they are the promised land. However, as we also all know (even the weirdos from Minnesota), not all casseroles are created equal. Some are delectable concoctions making up 9 x 13” of goodness. Others are tuna casserole.
Tuna is fine, and can be spiced up into a fairly tasty meal. Tuna sandwiches? Yum. Tuna melts? Double yum! But goodness, add some Cream of Mushroom soup (aka “Lutheran binder”) and you’re suddenly serving up bad elementary school cafeteria flashbacks. There’s just nothing that makes that grey gloppiness anything other than sad. Making Mike Locksley try to coach it is even sadder.
Check out this incarnation: it’s trying SO hard to make you like it, and to make you forget you’re ingesting tuna casserole. It has peas. It has egg noodles. It has a whole frickin bag of shred ched. It has—yes—a cup of crushed potato chips.
But no matter what you throw in that thing to distract the eye, it still isn’t very much fun to look at, and even less fun to commit to consuming. Maryland football, 2019.
13) Northwestern - Liver, ungarnished
Last Place Votes: 1 H: 13 L: 14 LW: 13
MNW: Would you like to remember a simpler time? Would you like to eat food that we’re pretty sure was only consumed after 1945 because old people liked to remind us that they rationed food once? Would you like to be hostage to not only that food, but a lack of garnishments or accouterments to make the food even palatable? WELL ARE YOU EVER IN LUCK, BECAUSE ONE TIME PADDY FITZGERALD’S GRANDPAPPY SAT HIM DOWN IN BETWEEN SHIFTS ON THE CHICAGO SANITATION PATROL AND MADE HIM EAT A WHOLE LIVER, BARELY COOKED, THEN SENT HIM TO SCHOOL WITH A SPOONFUL OF COD LIVER OIL AND AN ONION TIED TO HIS BELT, WHICH WAS THE STYLE AT THE TIME.
Pat Fitzgerald seems like the kind of guy who’d insist on having liver at Christmas dinner, just because he likes it. He doesn’t care that no one else does. He’s decided that’s what the Fitzgeralds serve for Christmas dinner, an—IS SOMEONE LOOKING AT THEIR PHONE AGAIN???
14) Rutgers - Weird and Wonderful Bologna Cake
LPV: 14 H: 13 L: 14 LW: 14
I got this one from an article (worth reading, but not before lunch) about the grossest thing found on Pinterest. As you know, Pinterest is responsible for many terrifying things: elaborate Elf-on-the-Shelf ideas, burlap and Mason jars at weddings, and the Live-Laugh-Love pandemic of the 2010s. It’s also responsible for inspiring people who maybe should have just brought a bag of chips to do something wildly ill-advised either in concept or in scope.
Enter... the Weird and Wonderful Bologna Cake.
Maybe the person who originated this thought it would be funny. Maybe they really like bologna. Maybe they just have really, really questionable taste. All of these are also possibilities that apply to Jim Delany’s thought process when he decided to bring in Rutgers. But I digress. From the above article:
Let’s leave aside the fact that the recipe involves the words “12 ounces good quality bologna,” as if that weren’t an absurd statement on the face of it, as well as the dollop of spray cheese jauntily perched on this Steinbeckian nightmare’s edge, because we need to talk about that white stuff between the bologna slices. You’re probably thinking that’s mayo. You would be wrong. So, so tragically wrong. Let’s see if we can guess what it is with the help of Jezebel’s own Isha Aran:
me: guess what the white stuff is
Isha: THAT LOOKS LIKE BOLOGNA TIRAMISU WITH FUCKING CHEEZWHIZ WHIPPED CREAM
me: you won’t be able to guess
Isha: i was gonna say cream cheese or sour cream
Isha: but if it’s not either of those, do i want to know?
me: cream cheese mixed with something
guess what it’s mixed with
think of the grossest thing possible that wouldn’t change the color
so much worse
me: arguably worse
Isha: cream of mushroom soup?
me: recalibrate your brain to the sort of people who just elected a Republican majority to the Senate
Isha: oop okay
me: give up?
me: ranch dressing
you have no idea how much money I’d pay to see what happened to your face when you read those two words
Isha: let me describe it to you
that was not even on my radar
and i am a damn FOOL for that
I dunno. Maybe Rutgers was just trying to fit into the Midwest with the Ranch dressing thing. Whatever the reason though... ill-advised.
For all it is maligned, I really think potlucks are great. It’s a low-pressure way to get together with friends, without anyone feeling the burden of hosting or preparing too heavily. People are busy, and it’s important to make connections with your people when you can—and if that means you outsource part of dinner, well, what’s wrong with that? Have yourself a merry little potluck in the doldrums of January or February, why don’t you—you’ll probably have a good time! Or at least more fun than Rutgers in the Big Ten.
What’s your go-to potluck contribution?
This poll is closed
Nothing. I’m rich and go to dinner parties or restaurants.
Nothing. I have no friends.
Weird and Wonderful Bologna Cake