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Volume 24 No. 176
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Social Studies: Daina Falk On Using Twitter To Get The Best Feedback For Tailgating Food

If the name Daina Falk (@TheHungryFan) sounds familiar, it might be because her father is well-known player agent David Falk. But Daina has carved out a path of her own as a tailgating -- or fangating -- expert. Known as "The Hungry Fan," she has primarily been sharing her expertise via social media. But today marks the release of her first book, "The Hungry Fan's Game Day Cookbook." It includes some of her favorite recipes from athletes. She said, "The prompt I basically gave them was I would love you to give me a dish you might serve at your own Super Bowl party. LeBron gave me a pretty healthy one, so it might be a recipe he would eat on gameday himself. I liked that a lot of the recipes were really significant because it came from their moms or their sisters or they were recipes they grew up eating or significant for the culture they came from. Patrick Ewing is Jamaican and he gave me a Caribbean dish." Having traveled the world learning about different cuisines and cultures, Falk learned that America's love for mixing sports and food is unique. She said, "Culturally, America just does that. If you travel around the world and observe other sports cultures, there aren’t a lot of countries that incorporate food and drink into their celebration of gameday."

Must-follow: I follow all of the sports media outlets like "SportsCenter," SI.
Favorite app: I love Snapchat and my Starbucks app.
Average time per day on social media: A couple of hours. I have been known to get lost in the stories on Snapchat.

On how social feedback has helped with tailgating recipes: People message me constantly asking for recipes, and often they'll specify what they're looking for -- so social is helpful in that capacity. But also, when I post food pics, the popularity of any given food photo is helpful as well to sort of help me monitor what wows or excites people. Do I always do recipes that correspond with how people are reacting? No. But it's quite helpful for taking sports fans' pulses, if you will.

How social media has changed the food industry: It’s leveled the playing field and made it possible for people like me to do what I do. Anyone can have an Instagram account, and most people have a camera on their phone. Almost anybody can share photos of what they are eating out and what they are cooking in the kitchen. They used to call them food bloggers; I don’t know if that’s the term any more. I think influencers. It’s everyday people who are really good at photographing food and give expert know-how.

On the evolution of what tailgaters eat: The development of cooking products and what people are actually capable of making in a parking lot compared to at home has affected what they are able to do. There is a growing desire by people to live a little more healthy and eat more healthy foods, and that has changed things. And part of the change is inspired by the concessions at stadiums, arenas and ballparks in this country, which have become a little more gourmet. It’s inspired people to jazz up their gameday food.

Favorite sporting season for food: Football season, for sure. There’s something to be said about NASCAR and "fangating." There’s something to be said about March Madness. But the sheer excitement and attention that football gets, and people are so locked into, it’s huge. How I actually got into it was teaching people how to make recipes for each team that was culturally relevant. 

Writing her first cookbook: It was really fun. The publisher has been amazing and very helpful to me as a first time cookbook writer. The way I went about doing it was I used football season as an opportunity to invite friends over. I had an open door policy where it was BYOB. If you bring your own booze, I’ll provide the food. The only catch: you have to tell me what you think.

Best advice from your dad: The best advice he gave me was not to be a sports agent. But he gets a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that he grew up with nothing and was able to make something of himself. He sort of instilled in me that everything I do is on my own and I have to earn it so that one day when I reach that point where I can say, "I’ve been successful," I would have felt I got there on my own.

Facility with best food: The Brewers do a great job at Miller Park. I know they’ve had to jazz up Madison Square Garden a little bit -- the jury is still out on that. The thing is concessions change a little bit year to year. When new Yankee Stadium opened, the concessions were great. Same thing for Barclays Center, then they sort of dialed it back and went old school with hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries.

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