I began this historical pursuit after reading that the origins of tailgating started during the Civil War, around 1861, when the North and South brought out spectators to picnic during a battle. Tailgating during a war? Seemed sort of ridiculous to me.
But then I discovered it’s even more involved. I was able to trace the origins of tailgating to Dante’s Inferno in the 13th century. Most people haven’t read this epic poem closely enough but just before Dante enters Hell his friends take a moment to relax and watch some of the underworld’s characters perform while Dante and friends nibble on sourdough and stale cheese.
Imagine my surprise then when I discovered that tailgating actually started several centuries earlier. Eight Hundred B.C. to be exact. Ever heard of Troy? Evidently the Trojans had an incredible spread of meats and veggies stashed in their Wooden Horse to enjoy while watching the Greeks joust inside the castle walls. Thus was born a tradition that would several centuries later be named after the gate on a paneled station wagon.