What we’ve learned about the origin of tailgating is fascinating, but likely not surprising to Princeton alumni who know their Tigers were involved in the very first intercollegiate football game.
The first tailgate party dates back to that first college football game between Rutgers and Princeton on November 6th, 1869. Apparently, spectators traveled to the game by horse-drawn carriage, grilling sausages at the “tail end” of the horse.
In 1881 at the first college football game south of the Mason-Dixon Line, University of Kentucky students and alumni enjoyed a pre-game supper of wild fish, and then later lingered over the food that was left over after the game.
In 1904, a large number of Yale fans arriving to the Harvard-Yale football game by railcar were quite famished after the long trip. They decided to bring a picnic hamper with food and beverages to future games.
But it was Green Bay Packer fans who apparently coined the actual term “tailgating” during the team’s first year in business in 1919. Back then, the fans would back their pickup trucks around the field and fold down their tailgates for seating. Naturally, food and beverages were brought along to keep the appetite in check.
Ever since that first competitive collegiate game, the traditional form of tailgating has been practiced at sporting events everywhere. Today millions of Americans wearing colors to show their team spirit arrive at stadium parking lots three to four hours before games and share food and drinks with other tailgaters, toss around a football, relax, and enjoy the company of good buddies. A live football game just wouldn’t be the same without the pre-post game tailgate party.
TigerTailgate hopes to add to the atmosphere and continue the tradition of tailgating at Princeton University football games.