This is something few of us expected. The Detroit Lions are on a roll and will play for the NFC championship tomorrow. That means “watch parties” will have to be put together on the fly. It's a new and exciting experience. 


Parties mean food and libations. Those are givens, but you can add entertainment value by having some chow chatter at the ready to enhance the menu. Just pick a food or beverage category and enlighten your friends and family. 


Adult Libations. Does anyone remember when a six-pack of beer cost less than a dollar? “Back in the ’70s, you could buy a sixer of Red White & Blue Beer for eighty-nine cents.  The Pabst-owned brew was essentially Pabst Blue Ribbon without the ribbon.” (


Continuing with beer, how about some beer math with a wine comparison? What matters is the alcohol by volume (ABV). Let's say the wine is a common fourteen percent ABV, and your beer is a typical five percent ABV. Crunching the numbers, means you would need to drink 5.9 cans of beer to equal the amount of alcohol in a bottle of wine.” (


Cheese. Cheese and crackers go well with beer and wine. Have you ever wondered what's in canned cheese? “”Many people assume that canned cheese is made from just milk, salt, and emulsifiers, but there are many expected and unexpected additives.” These include: brown seaweed extract, food coloring agents, cellulose gum, stabilizing agents derived from wood pulp or plant fiber, and citric acid. (


Olives. Maybe instead of canned cheese some guests will opt for vegetables. Olives are tasty and olive oil is a healthy veggie dressing, albeit a bit more expensive than cheese. There's a reason for this. “Olives have a surprisingly low yield. It takes about eleven pounds of olives to make one quart of olive oil. That’s between 5,200 and 8,000 olives. About ninety percent of the world’s harvested olives get slated to become oil and the rest will become table fare. (


Hot Dogs. Appropriately, the Detroit version of this delicacy is sure to be a popular menu inclusion. The “dog” part of the name has an interesting origin. “German butchers named early American frankfurters 'dachshund sausages' after the long and skinny dogs they resembled, which was eventually shortened to 'hot dogs.'” (


If you want to make these, has a recipe. However, you should know there is one key ingredient. “The authentic D-chili has beef heart in it... it really does make all the difference in the world, ask your local mom and pop butcher to grind it for you." (


Soft Drinks. Dr. Pepper is one of the main advertisers during football telecasts. It has a unique flavor profile that is no accident. “Dr Pepper emerged from the creative mind of pharmacist Charles Alderton in Waco, Texas, during the 1880s. His experimentation with various fruit-flavored syrups led to a drink that blended twenty-three different flavors, a closely guarded secret to this day.” 


Coca-Cola has a somewhat more nefarious history. “If you've ever noticed the resemblance between the name of this beverage and the famous Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act, you'd be onto something. The original version of Coca-Cola did contain traces of cocaine in the form of coca leaf extract, a key ingredient in the recipe. Consumers believed they were imbibing a medicinal tonic for headaches and fatigue. In 1929, the formula was modified to eliminate all traces of psychoactive elements.” (


Coffee. No doubt, there will be coffee drinkers at any party. Many coffee aficionados regard imbibing the liquids as an almost religious experience. In one regard, they may be correct. “The cappuccino (a drink made from espresso and steamed milk), gets its name from a 16th-century order of Italian monks. The Capuchin friars wore simple brown robes, with long, pointed hoods that were called 'cappuccio.' The earliest cappuccino drinks, which emerged around the 1700s, were nicknamed after these religious figures, because adding milk to espresso resulted in a color similar to that of the monks’ attire.” (


Fruit. With the dreary weather, everyone needs some Vitamin C. Oranges fit the bill of fare. There's a reason they look so good in the store. “  Citrus growers bundle oranges in mesh bags, which you may have noticed are made from red plastic. It’s no coincidence; red bags against orange peels create an optical illusion that makes the fruit appear more vibrantly hued and enticing. Yellow citrus, like lemons, are often sold in yellow or green bags to create a similar color-popping effect.” (


The Checkout Lane. To get those foodstuffs, a trip to the grocery store is required. However, in the near future that trip may be a bit different. “The self-checkout kiosk horror show could be nearing its end. The grand experiment in robot cashiers is an abject failure. Stores across the country are reversing course on the machines, and consensus is growing among analysts and insiders that self-checkout has been a disaster for consumers and retailers alike.” (


It turns out, human cashiers are more efficient. “The biggest problem is theft. Shoppers are reportedly twenty-one times more likely to sneak items past machines than human cashiers, but consumers also constantly steal unintentionally because the self-checkout process can be so cumbersome.”


Somewhat unexpected, humans may be better for a store's bottom line. “Not only do self-checkout machines double theft rates, they actually increase labor costs thanks to employees who get taken away from their other duties to help customers deal with the confusing and error prone kiosks.” 


Final Thought. All together and with all your might. “GOOOOO LIONS!


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and