A Focus on Food and Football

As we wrap up summertime, we begin to enter one of the best, most competitive seasons in Saline County: Salt Bowl Season. It’s a time for competition but also for lifting up our local community and showing up and showing out for those small businesses and people that make up the foundations of Saline County. 

The Salt Bowl is always a highly anticipated event that brings out a competitive spirit between our two neighboring cities. But despite this intense rivalry, the battle between the Benton Panthers and Bryant Hornets still manages to bring together the people of Saline County in a variety of ways. Whether it’s pitting the schools against each other to see who can collect the most peanut butter, or the efforts of different organizations supporting their local teams to make this game a possibility, so many aspects of this rivalry help funnel funds right back into our communities.

Food plays an integral role in the football season, and the Salt Bowl is no exception. Benton Panther and Bryant Hornet fans alike can agree that the thrill of football and the comfort of food come together in a fun and memorable experience for all to share at the Salt Bowl. Whether you’re streaming the game from home, tailgating at the stadium, or volunteering at the game, classic, staple football foods have become as much tradition as the game itself. 

And you can’t forget the classic tailgate party before the game. Nothing compares to joining up with your neighbors, friends, and family and supporting one of the largest events in the county, along with your local high school football team. Breaking out the portable grill and sharing in the experience of making and eating classic football foods before the game helps boost morale, and can also save you from overpriced concession foods in the long run. 

Not only does the Salt Bowl evoke fierce competition between Benton and Bryant, but it also provides an opportunity for you to make a positive local impact. Participate in food drives like the annual Peanut Butter Drive or other donation programs, or volunteer your time at the game’s concession stands or with organizations offering proceeds to charitable causes. Giving back to and taking part in your community reinforces the spirit of unity and compassion among Saline County residents, which is equally as important as cultivating the spirit of fun competition. 

If you are out of town or are not able to make it to the physical game, streaming from wherever you are is always an option. Planning a neighborhood watch party, especially if you have a few little ones at home, is an easy option to cut down on food prep, time, and even money. Set up a projector in your or your neighbor’s front yard with some lawn chairs, and you are basically at the game, but with less hassle and far better seats. With it being a neighborhood effort, bring out a grill, start passing around the pot-luck signup sheet, and bake your favorite goodies to share.

Over the years, the Salt Bowl has evolved into much more than a simple football game between two rival high schools. This tradition serves as a reminder of Saline County’s roots and our tenacity to continuously support one another even outside the game. In the midst of everyone adorning themselves in their team colors, be sure to take the time to put the competition aside and remember the importance of community. Invite a fellow rival to your tailgating party, offer your support and time to both teams and remember to take the time to put that rivalry behind you and focus on how you can help your community overall.

Sloppy Cola Joe Dogs


  • 1 medium-size red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground round
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup spicy, cola soft drink (such as Dr Pepper)
  • 1/2 cup jarred sliced pepperoncini salad peppers
  • Ground red pepper
  • 8 hot dog buns or hoagie rolls
  • Store-bought [or] homemade coleslaw


  • Sauté onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes or until onions are caramel colored.
  • Add ground beef to skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.
  • Return beef mixture to skillet. Stir in tomato paste and next 2 ingredients, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture thickens and color darkens. Stir in cola and 1/2 cup water, and cook, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in pepperoncini peppers; add salt and red pepper to taste.
  • Serve beef mixture immediately on buns with coleslaw.