(These logos are the work of David Rappoccio. You can find him on Twitter at @drawplaydave.)
My trip around the Uproxx offices continues. I started at With Spandex by reimagining every NFL logo as a famous wrestler. Then I got around to harassing the DIME crew to make people argue about who is the all-time best player on each franchise. Now it’s time to go bother the Life section crew. They thought they were safe, tucked away in their safe little corner of Uproxx. They were wrong.
So, with the help of Life managing editor Steve Bramucci, we once again bring you a fresh spin on NFL logos — this time focused on iconic foods of each NFL host city, because what goes better with football than stuffing as much sustenance as you can down your gullet?
This one might feel a touch familiar to anyone who’s seen my old fat logos, but it’s mostly due to a related premise resulting in a few similar final products — there really isn’t anything notable about Buffalo besides chicken wings or snow, and you don’t eat snow unless you are a weird little kid. Also, some of these food choices are represented by silly visual puns, because seriously, how do you draw Fry Bread in Arizona Cardinals colors? Have you seen fry bread? It’s a light brown lumpy thing.
The food choices and the descriptions are Steve’s and the pictures are mine, please direct your hate accordingly!
Truth be told, I’m not sure that Buffalo makes the best hot wings in the country. No one is sure of that because very few people make food odysseys to Buffalo. Which is really saying something because food writers will cross continents to eat endangered limpets that have been frozen with liquid nitrogen and turned into an espuma. I do know this though: Buffalo has a name association with hot wings and the world is better because hot wings exist — we should honor that.
Fact: N.E. Clam chowder is better than all your tomato-y cioppinos and Manhattan chowders. Cream and clams is a killer combo, especially on a cold, kinda dreary New England day when there’s beer to drink and football to watch.
New York has the best single-serving pizza on the planet. I know pizza’s origin story, I know what proper “leoparding” on the cornicione is supposed to look like, and blah blah blah. A lot of people do pizza well — because pizza is easy to do well — but NYC’s five boroughs do it best.
It would be ridiculous to not credit Cuba for its contributions to Miami’s culture. Plus this is a really good sandwich. In its simplest form, a Cuban is basically a grilled ham and cheese with pickles — but as the movie Chef taught us: a good Cuban can be transcendent. Here’s the best part (speaking from someone who was just in South Beach): Good Cuban sandwiches are very easy to find in Miami.
Pierogies could have gone to a lot of different Midwest cities — I pondered filing them under Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and Chicago. But the fact is, Cleveland needed this. They have LeBron, now they officially have pierogies. Hopefully the best basketball player since Jordan and these delicious dumplings are enough to keep the populace happy. (I suppose they also have the Cleveland Browns…I don’t follow football close enough to know if that’s a credit or debit to the city.)
This is true comfort food — essentially just a ravioli with cabbage as the casing and meat and onions as the filling. Doesn’t that sound good? Doesn’t it beg the question: Why do we only get cabbage in coleslaw when this dish treats cabbage with way more dignity?
This is one of the strongest name association dishes on the list — everyone knows that Maryland is famous for its crab cakes. Less known: Baltimore residents don’t need all your fancy sauces and garnishes. The typical crab cake is served with saltines and *maybe* a dash of Worcestershire.
Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t the chili con carne that you’re thinking of. This is a spiced meat dish that might vaguely resemble the chili you’re thinking of, but just barely (plus it’s usually served over spaghetti or on a coney dog). Macedonians brought this to America and Cincy has a stranglehold on the industry. If you go to Cincinnati for a chili, make sure to have a friend intro you to the “way system” of ordering. (Sidenote: Why is there not a fast casual chain called Icons that brings iconic foods from around the country to a wider audience? The menu could rotate monthly with one food from each region being represented each month. Mark Zuckerberg, invest $1 billion in Steve Bramucci ideas.)
Beef. Barbecue. Texas. Meat. America. F*ck yeah.
Not only is this an absolutely iconic food for the city where the team is based, it’s also a dish that the rest of the country seems to make a concerted effort to constantly screw up. KFC’s Nashville hot chicken is catastrophic; real Nashville hot chicken is a joy.
(This is my favorite logo, by the way.) Shrimp around Jacksonville (particularly nearby Mayport) is widely thought of as the best in the country. Most people have never eaten shrimp that wasn’t flash frozen. If that’s the case, check the schedule for the next time your team plays the Jaguars. Trust me, there’s a difference.
This is another item that should get a shot in the mainstream. The BPT (breaded pork tenderloin sandwich in local parlance) is basically a fried pork schnitzel burger. It’s not at all how you’d imagine “tenderloin” would look. It is delicious.
The key to real K.C.-style barbecue is the sauce. Personally, I love saucy BBQ. A good KC sauce won’t just be spicy or sweet (though it may also be both of those things), it’ll add tang to the flavor profile, thereby balancing the fats of the meat. And the perfect fatty meat for that tangy sauce? Pork, of course.
These are testicles. Google it. I could have rooted around for another iconic food (maybe the Denver Omelette), or talked about green chiles (which Denver has co-opted from New Mexico), but these came to mind and I wasn’t going to miss the chance to make an illustrator I’ve never met visually represent testicles.
This one is open for debate. I guess I could have thrown in another BBQ-related entry. Or … I’m not sure what else. Oakland is a diverse community with strong Southeast Asian influences. Sticky rice, which is particularly popular in Laos and Thailand, just felt right.
This entry isn’t at all open to debate. I talked to a few different food writers about these entries and “fish tacos” was unanimous. Related: Mexico’s northern Baja has one of the best food scenes on the planet. It’s (relatively) safe there now, cartel violence is way down — you should plan a trip.
I can’t believe the Philly cheesesteak hasn’t been stolen and rebranded by like six other cities. Does everyone realize how insanely good even a bad Philly cheesesteak is? It’s pure bliss. Sidenote: White American cheese is the only acceptable cheese for this sandwich.
Too easy, but also the best pick. New York is iconic and full of iconic foods, but no one can do a bagel better. If ever there was any truth to the “New York water makes the best dough” argument, I think it would be evidenced more by bagels than pizza. I live in the Los Angeles area and just don’t think we’ve figured bagels out yet.
You knew that the Texas teams would be dominated by beef and barbecue. Brisket is a good fit in Dallas. Brisket is also a good fit in the stomach of anyone with any taste buds. When in Dallas, try to find a place that uses mesquite wood — that’ll make it more traditional. Or don’t. It’s your life and you don’t need someone telling you what wood to have your meat cooked over.
This half-beef, half-pork smoked hot dog hybrid is another one that should be way more popular. It’s a pretty obvious combo. President Obama gets his at Ben’s Chili Bowl — but the street carts do a pretty good job with these too. It’s still basically a hot dog and therefore tough to screw up.
The Jucy Lucy is a no-brainer pick. It’s a burger with cheese inside (Genius! It’s always going to be melted!) that was clearly created in Minneapolis (though there is debate as to exactly which bar started it first). It’s also a brilliant item that you just don’t get in the rest of the country.
Cheese something felt like a natural choice for Green Bay, but what monster would leave brats off an iconic-foods-loosely-connected-to-football list? Not I, friends. Brats belong on this list and Green Bay knows how to do them right.
The Coney Dog might not have a Detroit-based name, but it’s definitely a Detroit-based food. Which makes sense, since the dish was popularized by Greek and Macedonian restaurateurs (of which Detroit has many). If you want to go ultra-traditional, the chili on the dog should be made with minced beef hearts.
Like New York, Chicago presents a lot of great options — pizza, brats, Polish sausage (I also had the best hamburger of my life there) — but Italian beef is the right call. This is a pretty easy sandwich to get behind: seasoned and thinly sliced beef, sweet peppers, and an Italian roll are dipped in the beef juices (I want to say gravy here, but don’t want you to think of either the Sicilian-American name for Italian meat sauce, or the flour-thickened gravy you might find in the south). Anyway: Meat and pepper and bread and meat juices — it’s pretty obvious that this would taste good.
I let Uproxx’s Editor-in-Chief and New Orleans resident Brett Michael Dykes pick this one and he didn’t hesitate. I was glad to let him make the call because my time in New Orleans left me more partial to jambalaya and sweet potato pie with praline sauce. A Po’ Boy would have been a perfectly acceptable choice too, but as Brett said, “You don’t leave New Orleans without ordering gumbo at least once.”
Pulled pork is low-and-slow Carolina barbecue at its best. This is also a dish that every human with even a passing interest in cooking meat should know how to make. Warning for the home cook: Don’t over sauce it — too many cooks outside of North Carolina have had their pulled pork dominated by too-sweet sauces. A little light vinegar-based sauce will mellow the pork fat.
This is a true Southern staple and it’s also the only vegetable that gets to stand alone on our list. Although, considering that the best fried okra is battered in buttermilk and cornmeal then fried in bacon fat, this wasn’t exactly a health-focused pick.
This was the one entry I really needed Google for. I’ve had smoked mullet, I like smoked fish, but I didn’t know this was Tampa’s thing. If someone from Tampa Bay wanted to argue in the comments, I probably would have to slink away.
Daniel Snyder may not want to properly honor the Native American community, but we do. The Navajo trace fry bread back to the late 1800s — it was born out of necessity and made from government issued flour, sugar, salt and lard. These days, fry bread is still a beloved snack (and calorie bomb) throughout much of Arizona’s traditional Navajo land — both the sweetened version (like an elephant ear) and the savory (with ground beef, often called a “Navajo taco”) are fantastic.
This is a bland, boring choice but it’s what S.F. deserves right now. As rents have climbed, the San Francisco food scene has faltered. Restaurants need hotels to anchor them and that means they aren’t as encouraged to innovate. So we’ve followed suit and picked sourdough. Others in contention: cioppino and the Mission Burrito.
This might not be super well known across the country, but it was another one that felt like a pretty easy choice for this Pacific Northwest born and raised food writer. Go to Pike Place Fish Market and have some of their smoked salmon. It’s fantastic. (Plus real seahawks hunt salmon so there’s a cool tie-in.)
This is my favorite choice on the list. I keep fantasizing that someone will argue in the comments, and I’ll get to rattle off a few hundred words defending why I picked it. The long and short of it is: Ramen is the only food that L.A. does better than anyone else (David Chang might be the country’s best ramen chef, but L.A.’s top five ramen spots crush NYC’s top five). The only other dishes in contention for the “Los Angeles does it best” title: donuts, Korean-Mexican fusion, and chicken and waffles (ROSCOE’S 4 EVA).