4B - Thursday, November 1, 2012 a
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4B -Thursday, November 1,2012 tlit b-Si(IC The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
on best of
chips and dips
ILLUSTRATED BY KRISTEN CLEGHORN
Fulfillin fantasies at '
Football fans find
in online game
By ANDREW ECKHOUS
When you grow up, odds are
you will not play in the NFL.
For most of us not lucky
enough to be nicknamed "Shoe-
lace," childhood dreams of grid-
iron glory will soon be smacked
in the face by reality. Only a min-
iscule percentage will ever actu-
ally "suit up."
But football stardom is still
achievable in the digital realm.
"Fantasy football doesn't run
my life, but it's a big factor in it,"
LSA senior Jay Sarkar chuckled.
Fantasy football is one of
America's fastest-growing hob-
bies. Usually between eight and
12 friends, coworkers or fam-
ily members will form an online
league and draft real-life foot-
ball players to their "teams."
A player's game day perfor-
mance will earn the "manager"
of that team points, and can help
him or her get a win for that
week. Different game events
are given varying point values,
with touchdowns and yards as
positives and interceptions and
fumbles as negatives. Each team
has its "sleepers," "sure things"
and "hometown heroes."
Fantasy sports participation
has increased by almost 400
percent since 2005, from 9 mil-
lion to almost 34 million partici-
pants, according to the Fantasy
Sports Trade Association.
With rapid ascent has
emerged a pervasive culture.
Some websites and magazines
deal exclusively with fantasy
football, and some restaurants
offer perks for holding "draft
day" in their establishment. FX
even has a wildly popular televi-
sion series about fantasy football
called, what else, "The League."
Many students, like Sarkar,
say fantasy football is a method
of making the NFL a more.inter-
"I'd gotten into the NFL in,
probably, third or fourth grade,
and some of the older kids said
I should play fantasy football,"
he said. "I said 'What's that?'
and they told me 'Think of it as
a video game, just it relies a lot
more on real life."'
To demonstrate his contin-
ued domination of his league,
Sarkar ordered himself a gaudy,
WWE-style championship belt,
evidence of his four straight
Animated trash-talk, like
Sarkar's nod to Dwayne "The
Rock" Johnson, is a common
aspect of fantasy football. Wheth-
er through rude text messages or
a well-timed "woo!" shouted in an
opponent's face, rivalry - wheth-
er friendly or not - is an integral
part of the experience.
The participants in LSA senior
Stef Manisero's league like to
raise the stakes, and in week five,
things got hairy - literally.
"Two girls were playing each
other and whoever lost had to wax
our friend's back," she explained.
"It already grew back though."
Besides testing relationships
with all of your closest friends,
fantasy football also makes
sports more engaging. For those
who won't ever throw on a Lions
jersey or a coach's headset, fan-
tasy football is the next best
thing. It adds a sense of strategy
to watching sports - something
sorely missed by athletes who
didn't make it past high school.
Fantasy football transforms
armchair quarterbacks into
heroes, and moves glory from
the playing field to the digital
realm. Enthusiastic managers
can and will talk about their
"monster week" to anyone who
"If I'm talking to you about
my team, you don't care, but
you can't wait to tell me about
yours," said LSA senior Mike
Dewitt, who plays in Sarkar's
league. "But actually, I think
that fantasy helps people who
want more out of the NFL get
more out of it."
Dewitt also explained that
fantasy football can drastically
affect perception of a player.
"NFL players can make them-
selves heroes by being good fan-
tasy players, or they can make
themselves villains by underper-
forming," he added.
Dewitt and Sarkar have both
formed allegiances to players as
a direct result of fantasy football.
"I drafted LaDainian Tomlin-
son three years in a row, and those
were his three studliest years.
After that, L.T. became a player I
cheered for every year because I
felt like he did something to help
me out," Dewitt said.
Sarkar takes his devotion a
little more seriously.
"Whoever is my biggest fan-
tasy stud of the year, half of the
time I'll end up buying his jer-
sey," Sarkar revealed. "People
will tell me 'Oh, you're a fair-
weather fan!' I got knocked
for buying a (Houston Texans
defensive end) JJ Watt jersey.
But, I loved him at Wisconsin, I
love him in the pros, and maybe
I own the Houston Texans
There are priorities that out-
weigh fantasy football, though,
as most football fans will tell
you. Engineering senior Rick
Lorenz, a Detroit Lions fan who
plays in a league for money,
chooses his heart over his pock-
etbook every time.
"Tom Brady is my starting
fantasy quarterback, but if the
Lions and Patriots are playing,
I will not be upset if the Lions
shut out Tom Brady and he gets
me negative points."
But that doesn't mean loyalty
affects his strategy.
"I set the best fantasy lineup
possible every week. I don't
take fan loyalty into effect," he
It's not all about what's hap-
pening on the gridiron, though
- Dewitt, Manisero, Sarkar and
Lorenz all agreed that making a
team name is a time-consuming
process. While there are surely
many people who skip the agony
involved in crafting a wittier-
than-thou team name, most
will indulge. A good name will
usually involve some form of
football pun: In Lorenz's league
there are team names like "My
Vick ina Box," "Breaston Plants"
and "Show Me Your TDs" (sound
that one out when your little
brother isn't around).
While fantasy football does
exude some hypermasculine
characteristics thanks to its
association with American
sports culture, it's not necessar-
ily a man's world out there. Man-
isero is sitting at second place in
her league - which is split half
men and half women - and her
only competition is first place
LSA senior Rachel Nitzkin.
"I wasn't going to play, but
they needed another person, so
I did it and now, I'm addicted,"
Nitzkin, who had not been a
serious football fan before, said
fantasy has helped her under-
stand and-enjoy the game.
"I know what a receiver and
a running back is now," Nitzkin
bragged. "I learned so much. I
was in my 8:30 class trying to
pick between Kyle Rudolph and
Jimmy Graham this week. I still
have some research to do."
Fantasy football does serve
purposes other than competi-
tion. For Dewitt, his league with
high school friends is an anchor
for their friendship.
"I think it's more to keep us in
touch than for us to play fantasy
football and win," Dewitt said.
What started out in middle
school as a way "just to hang
out with the guys" has become a
way to check in with friends on
a week-to-week basis. There is'
no money involved in the league,
it's simply a way of staying close,
While fantasy football die-
hards are not out pre-gaming
before noon like their Michigan
football fan counterparts, they
are equally dedicated. Some
managers spend hours research-
ing before the draft and just
as long adjusting their rosters
every week before Sunday kick-
off. Fantasy enthusiasts may not
be committed enough to pound
seven shots of bottom-shelf
vodka in a row, but their enthu-
siasm is still palpable. Just ask
any fantasy nut in the middle of
a given week. By then, they may
be halfway done complaining.
A s many of you probably
know, oldest children
often get screwed out
of something. And in my family,
this was especially evident with
the food I
to eat - eat
a fruit and a
every meal, if
I wanted des-
junk food was almost never
available. This included chips
and dip. But every once and a
while, my mom - a closet chips-
and-dip lover - couldn't resist
buying a bag and a pint of dip.
And those were the days that
heaven came down to Earth.
Fast-forward 15 years, and
here I am, still obsessed with
chips and dip. IShave literally
walked four miles in a blizzard
to satisfy a craving, my grandma
lures me to come visit her by
keeping them on hand and every
time I have to drive my friends
to Meijer, they're the only things
in my basket at checkout. So let's
pop open a couple bags of my
Favorite Flavored Chip:
Better Made Barbecue
Not only are these the best
barbecue chips on the market,
but they're also made in Detroit!
Take caution not to confuse
them with the same brand's
Sweet Barbeque offering, which
is far inferior.
a chip and dip
These chips boast a beauti-
ful, light rust color and from the
very first bite exude a forceful
dichotomy of sweet and spice. If
you have the willpower to let the
flavors ruminate on your taste
buds, undertones of smokiness
and acidity also slowly elevate.
My only complaint is that the
chips could use more salt: A
single serving doesn't even hit
the double digits for my percent
daily allowance of sodium! I
mean, come on.
You'll probably notice as you
mow down on the bag that there
are a select few dark orange
chips. If you're sharing the bag
with someone, fight over these
chips. They are beautiful disas-
ters chock-full of flavor - simply
da bomb. And while dip for these
Better Made chips is definitely
not necessary, I do humbly rec-
ommend pairing them with
another Detroit classic, Faygo
Favorite Hipster Chips and
Dip: Trader Joe's Ridge Cut
Salt & Pepper Potato Chips
and Caramelized Onion Dip
Alone, these chips aren't
spectacular. They are incredibly
thick and crunchy, surprisingly
punchy from the black pepper
and ground jalapeno pepper
seasonings and saturated in
oil. And - in the manner of all
things Trader Joe's - they some-
how seem more down-to-earth.
I just can't get over how greasy
But, because these chips are
so sturdy, they're perfect for dip-
ping, namely with the Joe's extra
thick caramelized onion dip.
The base is a trio of sour cream,
cream cheese and the real sur-
prise: mayonnaise. It's tangy
and strikingly sweet with a nice
mouthfeel (yes, that really is a
culinary term) and is rich, with
satisfyingly large and numer-
ous chunks of onion. It has a
mild lemon flavor in the back-
ground serving to brighten the
dip, yielding an acidic bite and
contrasting nicely with the dark,
black peppertones of the above
chip. The caramelized onions
are a hearty and warm deviation
from the norm.
And when these chips and dip
come together, the collisions of
warm and cool, sweet and salty,
spicy and acidic and creamy and
crunchy are simply irresistible.
Unfortunately, though, not every
city has a Trader Joe's (ahem
my hometown), so when I'm
home, IScan only enjoy this dip
if I make it myself. And thus, I
present my homemade replica-
tion of Trader Joe's Caramelized
2 Vidalia onions
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground
Thinly slice the onions and
cook in butter over lowheat for
10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cover the onions and continue
cooking for 15 more minutes, still
stirring occasionally. Add the
salt to the onions, stir and cook*
uncovered for five final minutes.
Remove the onions from the heat
and roughly chop. Let them cool.
Whisk the rest of the ingre-
dients together ina small bowl.
Gently stir in the onions. Chill
for an hour, and enjoy!
Far classier than your stan-
dard store-bought ranch dip, this
caramelized onion concoction
would also make a great accom-
paniment for fresh crudits or
And while these chips and
dips are a great start, I still have
another couple of favorites up
my sleeve, including a "Classic"
combination no one can resist.
And so it is with great anticipa-
tion that I pause my chip evalu-
ation project for a few of weeks
and leave you with three infa-
mous words: To be continued ...
Wood is double-dipping
his chips. To stop him, e-mail
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