The Best Football Food You’ve Never Heard Of

I’m a proud New Orleanian, and after living here for 15 years, I have can finally say that I’ve perfected “my” gumbo. But I didn’t grow up on gumbo. I grew up in the hills of East Tennessee, where we didn’t think of gumbo when the weather turned colder — we made a pot of chili. And just like gumbo is better with a little lagniappe (potato salad in mine, please!), the good folks in Appalachia figured out how to elevate their chili game. You see, I didn’t grow up just eating a bowl of chili. I grew up eating Petros.

A what?

You may be wondering, “What in the world even is a Petro?” Well, reader, let me tell you. It is, in my opinion, the perfect football food. And I’m glad to share it with you. But first, a little background.

While New Orleans hosted the 1984 World’s Fair, my hometown of Knoxville, TN hosted the 1982 World’s Fair. And it was at that event that the Petro was introduced to the world. It was such a hit that the inventors actually brought their creation to the Big Easy in 1984. So ask your mom and them…maybe they’ve had one. (If you want a little more history, check out the story here.)

Now that you’ve the back story, I can finally let you know just what a Petro is. Are you ready? It starts with a humble bag of corn chips (think the individual bag of Frito’s). First, the bag is opened, and the chips are topped with chili, cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, black olives, and green onions. And voila! That’s a Petro! A handheld culinary masterpiece that screams Fall to me, and football season.

Sounds delicous, but how do I make them?

Making a Petro bar is quick and easy, much like a baked potato bar or any sort of build-your-own bowl situation.

Here’s what you need:

  • A bag (or two or three) of corn chips, such as Frito’s *
  • A pot of chili. This pumpkin turkey chili has been my most recent favorite.

Toppings of your choice

My favorites are:

  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Canned, sliced black olives
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Green Onions

You could also try:

  • Salsa
  • Jalapeños
  • Red onion
  • Avocado

* Note that while the original Petro was served straight from a chip bag, folks quickly realized that could be a bit messy. If you’re serving at home, I recommend serving from bowls.

Next, all you have to do is build your bowl. Start with the chips on the bottom. Then top with a generous serving of chili. Top as desired. And if you’re feeling really wild, add a couple more chips on top. And that’s it. Grab your spoon, give it a stir, and enjoy!

What’s your favorite football food to feed a crowd?

Sarah Brichetto
Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sarah moved to New Orleans in 2009 after graduating from the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) and is proud to call New Orleans home. She is a CPA and the Finance Director at a local real estate development company. Sarah lives in the Freret neighborhood with her husband, Matt, and their three kids: Elizabeth, Paul and Isaac. You can often find them roaming the neighborhood streets, taking streetcar rides, or enjoying one of the many local parks. In her non-existent free time, Sarah loves to try the newest local restaurants, cook, read, and write.


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