Pages out of the 1953 Cookbook, “Carolina Cooking,” taken from the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library. Junior Service League (Chapel Hill, N. 1953. Carolina Cooking. Pg.110-111. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Junior Service League.)

These are pages out of the cookbook published in 1953 by the Junior Service League of Chapel Hill, titled Carolina Cooking. The Junior Service League was an organization of women who did various community services activities in Chapel Hill, and they published this cookbook claiming that, “sooner or later every women’s organization publishes a cookbook [1].” This particular section is titled, “Football Fan Fare,” and gives a variety of recipes for women to cook on football game days. This primary source sheds light on a very important food story in Chapel Hill, one tied to our history of being an athletic school with a large fan base. This shows us that game days have always been a huge part of Chapel Hill tradition, and it allows us to see how “football fare” has evolved into the tailgate foods of today.

All of these recipes are similar to  appetizers or hor d’oeuvres, including fingers rolls with chicken salad, fresh clam spread, and blue cottage cheese dip. Sandwiches, dips, spreads, and finger foods were common “football fare” during these times. All of these foods were prepared by the women, since during the post-war era, women were still holding the traditional homemaker roles, with it all beginning to slowly change. The women often used football as an excuse to throw luncheons and have company over to cook for. It’s interesting to see how this has changed as nowadays tailgate foods are less “sophisticated” than things such as clam spread, and more along the lines of classic “American” foods like burgers and hot dogs. It’s also interesting to see how women used football as a day to have company and cook, whereas now women attend the games and tailgate at the stadium and participate in more than just the cooking of the gameday fare. We see that for women in Chapel Hill during this time, gameday was a day that they could go all out and plan a large buffet or luncheon, polish their silverware, press their linens, and treat it as a well organized dining event. Today, Chapel Hill athletics attract fans from all over to enjoy good food, good friends, and good sports, and we see that even 60 years ago that athletics were a huge part of the Chapel Hill story.


Alexis Lewis


[1] Junior Service League (Chapel Hill, N. 1953. Carolina Cooking. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Junior Service League.