For a guy like me with average sized hands carrying a beer, a plate of food, a napkin, and everything else you need can be trying when navigating through everyone at a tailgate. And don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve sat there balancing a plate on my lap trying not to drop food all over my shirt, pants, or on the ground. It might seem easy to say “just eat at a table,” but at smaller parties, table space is very limited. Sure I’ve tried using a tray to carry my meal but even that wasn’t without its faults. Dishes would slide around, and food/drink would get all over the tray, or even fall over the edge. Thankfully there is a solution out there that greatly reduces the potential for these sorts of mishaps. Its name is The Lapper.
The Lapper is, for all intents and purposes, a TV/serving tray. What separates The Lapper from more common trays is the use of silicone pads that grip your plate/drink to keep them from slip-sliding around. The manufacturer claims that the tray can be tilted approximately 65 degrees before things start to slide around, provided they are on one of the pads. Among their other claims are that the mats can be used as hot pads, which is something I have found need for on occasion. Of course we’ll test those claims as well as the products overall applicability to tailgating.
(Disclaimer: We were compensated for this review however that in no way affected my objectivity to fairly evaluate the product’s effectiveness and practicality in a real tailgating environment.)
Upon receiving the product I wanted to get some initial impressions. After cutting the plastic open, I pulled The Lapper out. I felt it to possess a good ratio of weight vs. sturdiness. In addition to this the handles seemed quite functional, as well as comfortable. With those evaluations made I set out to do some actual testing.
My first test was to try some different dishes on the larger center pad. This pad rests in a depression that is 7.5″ wide and about 3/8″ deep. What I found was that some plates that were wider than the recess did not rest squarely on the pad. These were mostly larger plates that did not have a defined base. However when I set the plate a little off center I was able to get the edge to rest down on the pad thus eliminating a lot of excessive sliding. When I tried a moderately heavy ceramic bowl, which you might use for chili, the Lapper worked like a charm. The results on the smaller pad were very similar.
As you can see in the picture (let me state that this picture was taken in my kitchen and has no trick photography) I placed a bowl and plastic cup, both filled with water, on the pads and elevated the tray with some cork trivets. I was able to lift one edge of the tray about as high as a beer car is tall. I think I could have probably gotten it higher but I was satisfied with its performance at this amount of tilt. Much more and the items would have toppled over from being top heavy, or the water would have spilled out. Neither would have been the fault of the product.
The second test was to test maneuverability with items on The Lapper. At your more populated parties you may find a need to navigate other people and some obstacles. I wanted to test how well The Lapper would do in these situations. For a control I used another, more simplified, serving tray and placed some assorted items on it. I then made some laps around my home, at a good walking pace, to see how much the items slid around. As I would have imagined the items moved around quite a bit and some of the taller more vertically oriented items, specifically a beer can, actually fell over. If the items had food or if the containers were open I surely would have had a mess. With The Lapper I was able to do the same without excessive sliding. I did have some of the same items tip over, although I do not think it was a failure of The Lapper. The Lapper is going to prohibit the lateral movement of your stuff. It does not assist, nor does it claim to, with items bouncing around.
For my last test I wanted to try the silicone pad as a hot pad, specifically the logo side of the larger pad. While I doubt I would only use the pads for this purpose, I have found myself in need of a place to set hot objects. For the test I boiled a pot of water and then quickly transferred the pot to the pad, straight from the burner. I then left the pot there to see if the logo would peel up or deform. After about a minute I lifted the pot to see the logo staring right back at me unscathed. The pad overall seemed to be in the same condition as it was before the test. This would be a handy resource for those of you who do more involved cooking at your parties.
For you college fans out there, The Lapper is available in 13 collegiate designs: UNC (which is what I tested), Ole Miss, Florida, Florida State, Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, Auburn, GA Tech, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and Tennessee. Also available are 5 other designs such as Camo, Zebra, Floral, Trellis, and Circles. All of the Lapper designs nest together and stack making for easy storage. The Lapper, both the tray and pads, is also dishwasher safe.
I would definitely recommend The Lapper tray to anyone looking for a more efficient and practical way to carry their food around the parking lot. The collegiate designs would fit in perfectly at the game, and the functionality speaks for itself. For those reasons I am deeming The Lapper to be Tailgate Approved. If you’d like to buy some for yourself you can go to http://www.masterbuilt.com/lappertrays.html where a set of 2 Lapper trays is going for 29.99 plus S&H.