Best Side Dish Bracket: Cold Division Part 1

Children, what excitement! I couldn’t be happier with the response we’re getting so far over here at Bracket HQ. People are voting, we’re all bickering about nonsense, and Mac and Cheese beat Onion Rings in an absolute nail-biter. Seriously, it came down to one vote. How much better could this get?

Let’s find out as today, we check in with the Cold Side Dish Division, very much the underdog of this tournament. It’s February, and I’m in Chicago, so I have very little interest in anything cold, and I don’t think I’m alone in that opinion.

Whoever makes it out of the Cold Division is going to have to take that as a victory in and of itself, because it’s not looking all too likely that anything on this side could beat anything in the Hot Division. That may be true, or I might be biased because four days in the past month have brought with them windchills under -25. Fuck everything cold.

On that note, onward to the Cold Division:

 photo ColdDish1_zpscb291094.jpg

Chips and Salsa, etc. (2)

 photo Chips_zps0b0f9063.jpg

In terms of this bracket, we’re opening this entry up to all sorts of dip that go along with Chips, but primarily, we’re seeing this as corn chips. This is mostly due to it being incredibly rare to be out at a restaurant and get a side of Wavy Lays Avec Some Kind of Creamy Onion Dip.

I would say this includes the worlds of salsa, guacamole, sour cream or hummus even, but make no mistake, this is not Nachos. The selection committee voted on the matter and decided that Nachos are too substantial to be an Appetizer/Side Dish. This is neither the first nor the last time this distinction will rear its ugly head.


  • Guys. Salsa is so great. It’s spicy and kind of crunchy, and for the most part, it’s really heathy. You get yourself some pretty fresh salsa, and you’ve basically got yourself a Spicy Salad Dip.
  • Whenever I tell someone that I think I’m allergic to avocados, the first thing they say is “oh fuck, you can’t eat guacamole? That sucks.” This leads me to believe that guac is a pretty tasty item. I’d love to eat some, but what I’d love more is not throwing up violently, which is what I’ve done the last times I’ve eaten avocados.


  • This is really kind of one of the least special sides imaginable. You get it for free at most Mexican joints. That which comes so easily can never really be truly appreciated.
  • Sour Cream, even just as an idea, has always seemed nauseating to me. Dairy is not supposed to be sour, that is a sign that it’s turned, but yet Sour Cream has the balls to put Sour right in its name. I give points for┬áchutzpah, but I still don’t want to eat it.

Fruit Salad (7)

 photo FSalad_zpsb414ea5b.jpg

It’s like a regular salad but you replace the lettuce with grapes and the tomatoes with strawberries. I know, I find it pretty boring too.

I should be totally clear: when we’re talking about Fruit Salad, we’re mostly talking about weird mixed Fruits, and things like a Fruit Cocktail. We are explicitly not talking about a Waldorf Salad, because a Waldorf Salad is the worst thing ever imagined. Apples, celery, and walnuts, covered in mayonaisse? That is no salad; that is a prank.


  • People tell me that Fruit is really good for you.
  • Anti-Oxidants?
  • Not a Waldorf.


  • Fruit is high in sugar even when you don’t factor in the sugary syrup or marshmallows they use to trick you into eating this Salad. That kind of undoes the healthy argument. Then again, a lot of people say that Fruit includes “the good kind of sugar,” but I have no idea what that means. I didn’t study Dietetics in college. I was too busy eating garbage and chugging booze.
  • I may not have done a completely thorough investigation on the matter, but my feeling is that Fruit Salad very often involves Kiwi, a Fruit that I’ve decided is shifty and untrustworthy. If Kiwi was any good, why does it only show up in Fruit Salad and playing second fiddle for Strawberry flavored drinks?
  • Fruit Salad doesn’t have many friends, which is to say, it doesn’t seem like it would match up well with very many entrees.

What’s it going to be, folks? Who’s going to advance: the Mexican Restaurant Medley or the Festival of Fruit? Only you can decide.

30 thoughts on “Best Side Dish Bracket: Cold Division Part 1”

  1. I cannot conceive of any world or dimension in which fruit salad would be preferable to chips and salsa/guac. To put this in football terms chips and salsa/guac is the Greatest Show on Turf, and fruit salad is a failed punter who went on the murder his wife. I don’t support the murder of spouses over Marshall Faulk so I go chips and salsa/guac.

  2. Call of Fruity! Let’s go for a refreshing fruit salad boys, we’re all gonna live forever. Chips and Guac are hipster, fruit salad is classic. Did Frank Sinatra ever sing about salsa? No. But we all remember his famous “Give Me That Fruit Salad Kiss, Baby”

    1. I googled that lyric and didn’t find anything. I may be too tired to live right now. I am awake enough, however, to applaud you sticking to your guns and not flip-flopping when it really came down to voting time. I hate your choice, but I love your integrity.

  3. Put me down for fruit salad. I like fruit. I find that usually when I’m eating chips and salsa in a restaurant, it is an experience that is always accompanied by thoughts of ‘ok where’s the real food’. I never buy chips and dip at the store, yet I always come back with some various fruit. Can you crush up chips and salsa for a delightful drink? I think not. Give me my fruit salad damn it.

  4. Chips and salsa by far. Plus as a bonus, if you run out of chips, the salsa can be used on your main dish, pending what it is.

    Fruit salad is something that I end up eating towards the end of a barbecue because I feel bad about all the other stuff I’ve shoved in my mouth and I justify it by eating a little bit of fruit as legit nutrition.

  5. Chips & Salsa/Guac/AND Sour Cream. DUH. All 3 whenever possible. If you’re looking for the good sugar, try a nice pineapple/mango salsa. You start talking fruit cups this starts to look like a brunch bracket. That said, having strong feelings arise about the fact that fruit cups are way more of a side dish than C&SGSC will ever be. They still get my vote but I think the best classification would be “Snack.” Not as substantial as plate of nachos (Appetizer) but more substantial than a bowl of popcorn (Decoration), good enough to enjoy alone or with a meal, but not very often a “Side Dish”… maybe not often enough.

    I would like to separately address the fact that Sour Cream is delicious. Don’t be afraid of a good thing. I have also heard the stereotype that Jews love Sour Cream. While guilty as charged I really don’t understand where that one came from. Maybe Russia.

    1. Like I said, Reena, this distinction about what is and what is not a side is going to plague us throughout this bracket, and will undoubtedly be the reason that many will see the eventual winner as undeserving of the crown. In my thought process, Appetizer and Side Dish are interchangable. That may be me not knowing what either word means, but that’s the spirit of the bracket.

      I agree that popcorn is Decoration, at best, but I disagree that Chips qualifies as just a snack. I think it “can” be a snack if we’re at a party and there’s a big bowl of chips out and a huge thing of communal dip, but I feel like it trandscends a little bit when it’s only being shared by a very small group.

      And, though your words are comforting and smooth, you’ll never get me to let down my guard vis-a-vis Sour Cream.

  6. Chips and Salsa

    Fruit Salad is the horrible substitute that breakfast restaurants give you when you’re allergic to all of the good sides. I know I can’t eat the pancakes, but do you need to insult me with an offer of fruit salad? Now if they offered chips and salsa, I’d say “this is a weird breakfast restaurant, but at least you’ve offered a worthy side.”

    1. Unless you’re also allergic to eggs, you could get chilaquiles, hold the cheese! But then again, we’re getting into that weird “is it a side” debate. (For the sake of clarity, I think that chilaquiles is substantial enough to be considered an entree).

  7. My first thought is that this is a squash. C+S takes it right? Wrong. Your fruit salad is a miracle of the modern world. Kiwifruit a native of China, bananas from South America, grapes. This is our reward for our bold exploration. Chips and salsa are free with the purchase of a #2 combo. Also, this side dish debate is how I reveal that I’m an imperialist.

  8. I’ve gotta go with chips & salsa I taste, affordability, and how consistently it can be enjoyed throughout the year.
    When I’m strapped for cash (to be read as: always), it’s nice to have the option to skimp on my main order knowing I can fill up on the complimentary chips & salsa. I then undoubtedly take those savings and spend them on booze, likely at the very same restaurant / establishment. Which brings me to another reason chips & salsa should trounce fruit salad in this opening round matchup: c & s is a superior booze companion. Save the fruit salad for picnics with people you marginally enjoy spending time with.

  9. Chips and Salsa gets my vote, despite my appreciation of Tommy Mac’s fruit salad rap on today’s podcast. I’d just be lying to myself if I voted otherwise.

  10. Dude chips and salsa can go with anything. Fruit salad ,(which is not a salad, but that is a WHOLE other debate) on the other hand. not so much. I mean like Lunch food, like grilled cheese or a ham sandwich can go well with both fruit salad and chips and salsa, but when you get down to the dinner foods, such as burgers, tacos, steak Chips and salsa is perfect. Who would want to eat fruit with their steak, not THIS guy.

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