6 Oddball Games to Play with Food

Weird family-friendly activities to play at the table that are both fun and delicious
6 Oddball Games to Play with Food

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Growing up, most parents are constantly reminding children that food is for eating — not for playing. The napkin is to stay in their lap and they are to use proper utensils, rather than using  their mouth to shoot peas at the person sitting across the table, or their fingers to slingshot pieces of pasta to the dog on the floor. Come on, I know you did that, too.

While you might be a suit- or black dress-wearing businessperson during the day, that doesn’t mean that the allure of playing Jenga with carrot sticks or dog biscuits every once in a while has gone away. Oh no. Playing with food is fun — even for the “grown-up” kids.

Inspired by the punkin' chuckin' and apple bobbing competitions of autumn, and summers afternoons spent lined up along the stone wall, challenging friends to see who could spit the cherry pit or watermelon seed the farthest, we’ve come up with six ways to make mealtime a bit more fun this fall.


1. Table Top Football (with Sugar Packets)

This is a classic cafeteria game that is traditionally played with a folded triangle of paper (or leather), but it’s just as fun to play with a sugar packet or even fresh sugar snap peas.

What You Need: A sugar packet (Equal works best) or sweet peas and a table. 

How-To: Opponents sit across from each other and start with a kickoff. Take turns flicking the football across the table with the goal of scoring a touchdown OR when the football lands hanging over the edge of the table. After the touchdown, that player is then eligible for a field goal. Click here to see the full rules on how to play. First person to 10 wins.



2. Connect Four (with Cookies)

A delicious version of the board game favorite that can be played nearly anywhere.

What You Need: At least 42 two-tone sandwich cookies, like Duplex (or more, as they’ll probably be eaten).

How-To: Set up a “board” with a grid of cookie-sized circles, seven holes wide and six holes tall. Using the cookies as playing pieces, two opponents take turns and try to fill four circles in a row. First to “connect four” wins.


3. Jenga (with Dog Biscuits or Carrot Sticks)

One TDM editor grew up playing this variation of the classic game with dog biscuits when the real, wooden blocks weren’t available. If you’re up for an added challenge, use carrot sticks, cut into four-inch spears, instead of dog biscuits, or french fries.

What You Need: About 30 large-sized dog biscuits (or alternative).

How-To: If you’re playing with dog biscuits, begin by building two-biscuit layers, orienting each layer perpendicular to the one before. (If using carrots, build layers with three spears.) Take turns removing biscuits and placing them on the top without toppling the tower. The person who doesn’t knock over the tower wins.


4. Bowling (with Pumpkins)

These bright orange orbs aren’t just for jack-o'-lanterns! This is a fun game for the whole family to play, and perfect for a harvest celebration.

What You Need: A medium-sized round pumpkin for every bowler; 10 empty cans or plastic soda bottles for pins (or make your own with butternut squash).

How-To: In a driveway, walkway, or dirt road, measure off about five to eight meters for your alley (if your bowlers are young, opt for a shorter distance). Set up the ten pins in a triangle formation, like you would at a bowling alley. Pitch pumpkins as you would at a bowling alley, scoring points for the number of pins knocked down at each turn. First person to 20 wins.



5. Checkers (with Mini Muffins)

A fun game to play at the breakfast table, after a sleepover party, or on weekend mornings.

What You Need: A checkers board; 12 mini blueberry muffins (or similar flavor, or mini cupcakes); 12 mini corn muffins.

How-To: Set up the game just as you would a normal game of checkers. If you get a king, instead of doubling up the muffins, the opponent must bite off the top of the muffin and eat it. First person to move all their pieces off the board wins.


6. Horseshoes (with Pretzels)

Little children and throwing heavy metal horseshoes in the air don’t mix well. This is a fun outdoor alternative that everyone can play without getting hurt.

What You Need: A box of jumbo soft pretzels (found in the freezer section of markets); two two-foot stakes.

How-To: Insert stakes into the ground, about 20-feet apart (to make it easy). In teams of two, take turn pitching pretzels at the opposite stake, trying to get a “ringer,” or when the pretzel catches the stake. First team to five wins.

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