The Super Bowl of Food: Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay

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It's Super Bowl time, and at Serious Eats, that means the same showdown we do every year: which team wins for the best food city?

This year, we'll give each city a wide berth—say, 150 miles, or until you encroach on another team's territory. After all, Packers fans don't just live in Green Bay.

So if delicious foods were predicting the Super Bowl score, in our necessarily incomplete and arbitrary judging, how would the game play out? Follow along with us, quarter by quarter.

First Quarter: Burgers and Sandwiches

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The first quarter is a battle of food between bread, and it's tough competition indeed. In Green Bay territory, you've got crazy butter burgers and perhaps my favorite new chef burger of the year, at Graze in Madison; but Pittsburgh has one of our man Nick Solares's very favorite burgers at Tessaro's.

Chain burger territory? It's Culver's v. Steak 'n Shake, but we've got to give the nod to the latter.

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Sandwiches? Wisconsin doesn't have an iconic sandwich the way that Pittsburgh has Primanti's, but that's not to say there aren't sandwiches worth eating; one of the surprises of my travels this year was the corned beef from Jake's in Milwaukee. Bite for bite, I'd prefer Jake's, but history matters, too.

Score? 7 Packers, 6 Steelers. Both scored major victories, but Pittsburgh just didn't get that last point.

Second Quarter: Food Legacies

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[Flickr: mamchenkov ]

Which region has made the bigger mark on the food world? Pittsburgh, of course, is the home of Heinz—and that's a national and international legacy that's hard to beat. Latrobe, not far outside Pittsburgh, is the home of Rolling Rock; and Klondike bars weren't invented far away, just across the state line in Youngstown (which, our in-house Steelers expert assures us, is firmly Steeler country).

But of course, any beer drinker knows Wisconsin as the original home of Miller, Pabst, and many more—not to mention cheeses, and brats and sausages including Usinger's. And what about present-day food culture? Pittsburgh's got the still-active Strip District, a happy place for food shoppers, but Madison's got one of the most impressive farmers' markets we know.

Another tough one. Of course the mega-breweries score Green Bay points, but beer plus ice cream plus the one bottle on every diner table in America gets Pittsburgh more.

Score? 7 Steelers, 3 Packers.

Third Quarter: Pizza and Fried Foods

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Ah, my favorite quarter. Pittsburgh has a somewhat surprising pizza legacy (Il Pizzaiolo was a VPN-certified Neapolitan pizzeria years before there was a 1000° oven in every city), but Wisconsin's got its own idiosyncratic joints, our favorite of which is Maria's in Milwaukee. In Sheboygan, there's also Il Ritrovo. The pizza round is a wash—a touchdown each.

Fried foods? Pittsburgh is a proud pierogi town, no doubt about it, and it's not as if they can't get their fry on—heck, they put French fries on their most famous sandwiches, which has to count for something. But between fried cheese curds and fish fries, Wisconsin is the decisive victor—a touchdown to Pittsburgh's field goal.

Score? 14 Packers, 10 Steelers. Huge quarter.

Fourth Quarter: Sweets and Desserts

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It'd be unfair not to recognize the deliciousness of the hotcakes from Pamela's in Pittsburgh, so breakfast sweets count too. But Wisconsin's got some up-and-coming bakeries, like the charming Batch Bakehouse in Madison.

As far as desserts go? Pittsburgh may have tasty ice cream and sweets, and old-school bakeries like Prantl's, but frozen custard all over Wisconsin is absolutely unequaled (Leon's, Kopp's, North Point, Michael's). And that's just the start of it.

Score? 7 Packers, 3 Steelers.

Final Score

It was a nail-biter to the end, but the final score is 31 - 26 in favor of the Packers—though, to be fair, with a lot of help from its supporting cities, whereas Pittsburgh gets almost none.

What say you, eaters? What's your prediction for Sunday's game?

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