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Frankly speaking 

Football's a funny thing; a world unto itself. Some people live in that world year 'round. Others (like myself) visit on a seasonal basis. But no matter which state, city or team, the phenomenon of watching a football game with other people, a.k.a. the football party, is, I've determined, one of the most dependable things in life.

So is the food at these functions. Every season, it seems other logical people and myself find ourselves ingesting food items we might not usually consider. Things like mini-meatballs, cheese logs, wings; basically, anything you can smother with Velveeta or barbecue sauce.

Which brings us to the subject of cocktail weenies; party franks; mini-hot-dogs. Whatever you want to call them, they seem to be omnipresent during football season. I've never watched the World Series, the World Cup or NBA playoffs and had cocktail weenies. Those seem to be more chips-and-dip sports. Football, on the other hand, calls for more exotic fare, which always includes little franks wrapped or sauced. The football potluck party is one of the few occasions that the standard relish tray or bread bowl just doesn't make the cut. And I have to admit, those are regulars in my potluck repertoire. They just don't fly at these functions.

This year, as if they knew my first football party of the season was in three days, Heinz -- makers of ketchup and other fine sauce products -- sent out a little promotionmal booklet, chock-full of tailgating tips and football-related recipes. It seems that Heinz and football have both been around for 130 years. And there on page three, part of their anniversary-celebration recipe series, was my ticket out of the land of football-food faux pas: the recipe for Fast Football Franks. Finally, I could contribute to the tables full of meatballs, chicken wings and mini hot dogs. Who wants vegetables anyway.

Reading through the recipe, I now know why it never occurred to me to make these things before. The combination of ingredients was a bit suspect. I guess I'm wary, albeit curious, anytime ketchup, crushed pineapple and grape jelly are used in the same recipe. Not to mention melted together in the same pot.

I consulted Betty Crocker and The Joy of Cooking just to see if this was more common than I realized. I looked under ketchup (which they spelled catsup), jelly/jam and pineapple. None of the trio of ingredients appeared in the same recipe together. A friend of mine, though, with loads of cooking experience and a vast knowledge of food, said the assortment wasn't too far-fetched. "Well, I can kind of see it ... I guess" was her answer.

Didn't matter. I was going to try it anyway. I had to see if grape jelly and pineapple actually melted together. And into what color.

I'm happy to report that they do melt, and combined with the fine deep-red color of the ketchup, everything turns a brownish purple. The combination of ingredients result in something similar to a sweet and sour sauce.

With approximately three minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cook time, you too can have yourself this football-party pleaser. And nobody has to know that you mixed grape jelly, ketchup and pineapple together. All you need is:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 8 oz. crushed pineapple in juice, undrained (crushed and undrained is key, as you don't want chunky sauce with flecks of yellow)
  • 1/2 cup grape jelly (the more processed, the better for melting)
  • 1 lb. of cocktail franks
I absolutely recommend adding 1 to 2 tbsp. chopped jalepeo peppers for a nice kick.

Combine the ketchup, pineapple, jelly and jalepeos. Heat until everything melts together, particularly the jelly. Stir in the cocktail wieners. Present (warm) on decorative platter. Garnish is optional.

Most importantly, though, don't forget the toothpicks.

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