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Ten tailgating food essentials for Saints season 

  While everyone has their favorite tailgating foods, there are some items that can't be left off of a game day menu. With college and professional football seasons kicking off, here are 10 foods from local businesses that are fit for serious parking lot munching:

   Sausages. Everyone loves a good burger, but sausage provides more options for getting a meaty fix. From green chorizo to boudin noir, Cleaver and Co. (3917 Baronne St., 504-227-3830; www.cleaverand.co) has a sausage smorgasbord large enough to try out a new variety at each game.

   Salsa. Dips are the heart and soul of sports-based dining, and salsa is a must for any spread. There are a number of solid, spicy options available from Ponchatoula-based Pepperland Farms (www.pepperlandfarms.com), including chipotle and Chiapas hot flavors.

   Deviled eggs. The deviled eggs at Toups' Meatery (845 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-252-4999; www.toupsmeatery.com) are technically a la carte, but why not ask the restaurant for a larger order.

   Pickles. Whether on top of a burger or as a side item, pickles are a sneaky way to get a little bit more green into your game day diet. If you're tired of the cucumber version, the pickled watermelon rinds from Bread and Circus Provisions (www.bandcprovisions.com) are a down-home twist on the old standby.

   Barbecue sauce. No matter your grilled meat of choice, a good barbecue sauce is crucial. The spicy sweet barbecue sauce from Circle Z Foods will take your grilling game to the next level.

   Trail mix. While you could opt for the gas station stuff, the chocolate granola from Gracious Bakery (1000 S. Jefferson Davis Parkway, Suite 100, 504-301-3709; www.graciousbakery.com) doubles as a rich, decadent trail mix, featuring chocolate chips, dried cherries, cranberries and apricots.

   Chicken wings. Flip the script on traditional chicken wings by picking up an order of the Vietnamese-style sticky chicken wings from Mint Modern Bistro & Bar (5100 Freret St., 504-218-5534; www.mintmodernbistro.com).

   Potato salad. Some like it hot, some like it cold, but most tailgates wouldn't be complete without a mountain of potato salad. The dill-dappled version from Cochon Butcher (930 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-588-7675; www.cochonbutcher.com) has a great punch of Dijon.

   Soda. Go local with your soda selections by sampling some Swamp Pop (www.drinkswamppop.com) options, from the cola-kick of the noble cane soda to the most recent strawberry-flavored release, Ponchatoula pop rouge.

   Bar cookies. Want to try a sweet snack that combines the best of cake and cookies into one treat? Chocolate-dipped salted caramel pecan bars from Shake Sugary (3600 St. Claude Ave., 504-355-9345; www.shakesugary.com) will quell the sweet tooth of the biggest sugar lover.

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