Coaches and Café Brulot

Sugar Bowl traditions reflect New Orleans’ character.

For many people, coffee and New Year’s Day go hand in hand. In New Orleans, we add sugar to that equation to make it uniquely ours.

The Sugar Bowl was envisioned in 1927 by Colonel James M. Thomson, and on January 1, 1935, the first Sugar Bowl Football Classic was played at Tulane Stadium. New Orleans’ own Tulane played Temple, with legendary Glenn “Pop” Warner coaching Temple and Ted Cox coaching Tulane. Tulane won that first game, 20-14.

Tulane Stadium benefited greatly from its association with the Sugar Bowl, and after several rounds of renovations and enlargements, 1947 saw Tulane with the world’s largest double-decked steel stadium. In ’75, after finally outgrowing Tulane’s stadium, the Sugar Bowl took up residence in the new Louisiana Superdome.

Café Brulot is a New Orleans coffee cocktail original, heavy on the sugar. Claims to its origins are split between the legendary restaurant Antoine’s, who claims that Antoine’s son invented it in the 1890s; and the legendary pirate Jean Lafitte, who was said to mix up the concoction in the swamps with what was on board his pirate ship: coffee, sugar, spices, citrus and brandy. Either way, it’s deliciously sweet.

In the way things happen as they do in New Orleans, football and coffee came together in a unique way: The night before the games, Sugar Bowl notables and the press would have a party, ending with the traditional mixing of the Café Brulot by the Sugar Bowl coaches. It was a last bit of sweet civility before the battle for the Sugar Bowl the next day.

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