It’s Summer Potluck Season And Here’s Why They Suck

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With Memorial Day ‘23 in the books, it’s officially unofficially the start of summer. But do you know what else this time of year brings? A reminder of just how terrible potlucks are.

I hate potlucks. The thought of them makes me shudder. From the very moment someone throws the word “potluck” on an invitation that party/shindig/sock-hop is doomed.

What better way to throw a party than giving all of your guests chores to do before they show up?

How is it not seen as insanely rude to be like, “Hey, guys, I’m throwing a party, if you want to come, the price of admission is a casserole dish covered with foil. If you don’t bring anything we’ll all talk about what a freeloading scumbag you are.”

Potluck tbale
A dusty folding table that lives in the garage for the rest of the year; a potluck tradition unlike any other. (Getty Images)

Potlucks Are A Breeding Ground For Food Egos

You know you’re going to procrastinate. That means that the day before the stupid party is spent trying to figure out what to bring and throwing it together. This means the party, plus the time you spend whipping up some grub, eats up nearly two full days.

Then, when you show up to the party with your chafing dish of hastily-made mac and cheese (which gets placed on a dusty folding table kept in the garage, because where better to put food?), you find yourself thrust into the midst of a culinary arms race. Everyone is there trying to hype up their dish or telling dumb stories about how it’s their family’s favorite.

“I made this for Cadyn and Jadyn’s soccer banquet and everyone was asking me where I got the idea to throw cheese on top of hamburger meat and tater tots and call it dinner. Divine intervention, I guess…”

While the prep and people acting as their food’s personal Flava-Flav are both annoying, everything comes to a head when it’s time to eat.

Potluck dinner
This is quite obviously a staged photo because no one has ever been this happy at a potluck. (Getty Images)

Someone People Are Always Left Disappointed At A Potluck

Not every food is created equal at a potluck and therein lies its greatest flaw. For every first-overall pick, there’s a tray of weird-looking meatloaf that is this food draft’s Mr. Irrelevant.

There’s always a dish that is the proverbial pretty girl at the prom. Everyone wants to dance with her but there’s only so much to go around in the 9×13 pan.

All attendees need a dance partner, so that means the people who got in the food line late are left eating the stuff no one else wanted. To further the prom analogy, they’re stuck with the dishes that are the girl with the funny eye, corrective-dental headgear, and gnarly halitosis.

Now, a significant portion of the party is mad because the highly-touted stromboli had been picked over within seconds and they were left with mystery meat casseroles and something that may or may not have had Jell-O in it (this exact scenario happened to me in my youth while at a hockey banquet; clearly. it left some scars).

Potlucks are the Super Bowl of crackpots… by the way, where the hell are all of those things supposed to get plugged in? (Getty Images)

Things Can Get Awkward In A Hurry

Then there’s the super awkward moment when the person who made the “Mr. Irelevant” dish has to pick up an untouched Pyrex dish full of some rice casserole thing. They make some kind of joke about how everyone must have been full, or that their sub-optimal placement along the buffet table was to blame for the serving spoon still being pristine.

No; that thing just looked and smelled weird and no one wanted to take a chance. It’s a pool party, not Fear Factor.

See what happened? Two days’ worth of prep and stress, and now someone is going home in tears because no one wanted to dip into their crockpot full of grandma’s famous halushki recipe.

Look, if you’re hosting a party, save everyone the trouble, and steer clear of a potluck.

Your guests will thank you.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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