So you’re invited to the cookout. You’ve seen the Black Twitter threads and endless Instagram comedians making fun of white people who bring unnecessary innovation to food that was already bomb! I hear you pulling at my spirit because you are anxious about what to bring? You made it through the protests, social media unrest and IG posts dedicated to Karen-like behavior that you unknowingly have exhibited and yet, God has still allowed you to come out on the other side with black friends who love you enough to still accept you into their most precious, time-honored and sacred family tradition: The Cookout!
Never Fear!! SuperWoman Tam is here to give you a comprehensive list of items you can bring that will not only keep you safe from a Black Twitter dragging, but will probably get you some brownie points (that felt weird to type in this context but alas, here we are) with your black friends’ family...ultimately increasing the likelihood of you achieving the goal: A FUTURE INVITATION!!
This is the one item that is cheap and pretty much on the way to any function and yet, is the one item people hope and pray they don’t ask them to get! It can get heavy, it melts a little on your car interior and God help you if that bag rips!
That being said, if you show up with enough ice for both the coolers AND people to use in their drinks, you have instantly become an asset!
2. Hard Liquor &/or Wine Coolers
During daylight hours, we usually stick to lower proof spirits like beer, wine coolers, malt liquors & wine (dessert wine that is because black people do what we want when we want). Once the sun begins to set, we tend to switch over to the hard stuff. This is in respect of the elders and children, we can't get too lit in front of them. Some family members will absolutely be lit. They will likely have arrived lit or on their way, do not join them, it's a trap! You need to be on your best behavior, remember the goal!
Now that you have a general beverage schedule, you can plan accordingly based on your time of arrival and duration of stay.
For extra brownie points (still doesn’t feel right here), buy some hard liquor, leave it in your trunk and volunteer to go get a bottle out of the car when you hear whispers of hard liquor begin. You might actually leave the party with a spouse if you execute this smoothly!
3. Popeye’s Chicken
Not homemade, not grocery store, not your favorite neighborhood chicken spot! PIE PIES!! We are very aware that fried chicken is delicious and executed well with different flavor combos and seasonings. This is not the time to get creative! This is the time for nostalgia and familiarity and we trust Popeyes Chicken as the sponsored fried chicken of black functions! Some people don’t like it and that’s fine! But unless you find yourself at a black vegan function, this contribution WILL be consumed or put on a to-go plate! PIE PIES!!!
4. Raw Corn on the Cob & a few packs of butter
I don't know what it is about grilled sweet corn-on-the-cob but BABY, it's a hit every time! Kids can frolic about with it, it's a cute second plate addition if you want more food but not too much, it's just delicious! That being said, bring some sweet corn on the cob that we can butter up real quick, wrap in aluminum foil and Uncle Otis can throw on the grill. This is pretty much as far as I'd go on the cooked food spectrum so don't try to get fancy from here! I also love Elotes (Mexican Street Corn) so you may want to default to a Mexican friend on this, but they might appreciate this contribution as well if you find yourself at a Mexican cookout.
5. Pattie Pie & Popsicles
Dessert is one of those things that sometimes falls through the preparation cracks at cookouts unless it's centered around a special function that calls for cakes or cupcakes. There will often be a cobbler or banana pudding but sometimes, it falls through the cracks because there's so much food that it's not a top priority. Since we have the heavy food covered, grab you a PPP dessert: Patti Pie & Popsicles.
We can pop the pie in the oven and the kids can run around with popsicle juice all over them, the universe will be balanced!
6. Hot Sauce
If you MUST bring something no one asked for, bring hot sauce. If nothing else, guests will be impressed that you can handle spice and it’s one of those things we sometimes forget to include with condiments but are glad it’s there when it's there!
Some brands I've seen in black homes and at black functions are:
Franks Red Hot
7. Aluminum Foil & Heavy Duty Disposable Plates/Flatware
You can never have too much foil!!You use it on the grill, in the oven, to keep food covered while it sits outside, and after you crumple up the used foil, you end up going through a few rolls at a cookout. Whether they use it at this cookout or not, you've now gifted the home with something it ALWAYS needs!! This is an easy item you can pick up if you had a busy week or got a last minute invite! Heavy Duty plates at a cookout are THE GOAT but also more expensive that anyone really WANTS to spend. If you can eliminate us having to use 3 of the flimsy ones, we can save those for the house and use yours for the party. So either way, you win because you've either contributed to the function or the kitchen!
The following list is pre-approved by the ancestors:
Decks of cards
*Extra points for the life-sized editions
We will play Spades and if you don't know how to play, this is not the time to learn. You volunteer to host your black friends, cook for them and ask them to teach you at home, NOT at the cookout. Somehow, it will end badly. Trust me on this one. Just bring the cards, catch what you can, laugh when everyone else is laughing and stick to ANY game but this one!
The following list includes games you’ll want to avoid:
Anything that prioritizes knowledge or strategy
We didn’t come to think, we came to feel. We want to laugh and make fun of each other. We don’t need any reminders of how public school failed us. Joy and nostalgia are the only emotions we want to feel! Besides, somebody is probably going to argue with somebody at some point during the cookout, you don’t want to be a somebody.
9. To go containers
Now this is a sister to the foil, plates and cutlery but can also stand alone if you bring the appropriate amount! Don't only bring enough for yourself, white people have taken enough from us without giving back so don't colonize the cookout! So, if you show up with some Binto box style containers (I know you might have some moral opposition to styrofoam so plastic works too) for people pack their to go food in, we will appreciate your foresight when we are reheating our foods the next day!
I'd suggest going ahead and ordering these now and keeping about 50-100 in the house so you don't run out too quickly if you are popular and get invited back or to more. They are cheaper in bulk so you may want to go to Amazon or Alibaba for this one.
10. Bug Spray & insect repellent accoutrement
Any outdoor function no matter what race has bugs show up to join the party if there's food. They're annoying and if you want to be helpful, some bug repellent products would be a unique but much-appreciated contribution! Citronella torches and candles work well, along with the wristbands, the kids will love wearing them and their parents will be happy for their kids to not have mosquito bites at the end of the day! Good ole OFF Spray works as well. Anything to keep the bugs away from the food and the people will be a hit! You'll hear an Aunty yell "who brought these? These are fancy" and you'll know you did the right thing!
If you are blessed to have black people in your life that welcome you into their family traditions this summer, make sure you return the love by NOT bringing Raisin Potato Salad or Green Bean Casserole, please...just, please don't!
What else should be avoided? What's cool to bring? Sound off in the comments