Syrup vs. the sauce.
What started as a polite dinner invitation led to a friendly wager between strangers over a college football playoff game involving the University of New Hampshire Wildcats and the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions a few weeks back.
Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig, a UNH alum, and Hammond, La., Mayor Mayson Foster, an SLU alum, backed up their collegiate pride with a friendly wager: New Hampshire maple syrup vs. Louisiana hot sauce.
Foster, who attended the game in his hometown, could almost taste the Granite State syrup on his pancakes.
"It was a great game, but we thought we had you guys for a while and you came back," Foster said in a phone interview from his Hammond office Friday.
Thanks to a late touchdown clinching UNH's 20-17 win, Selig instead received a package containing not one but seven jars of hot sauce from Foster,.
"I didn't know how much of a hot sauce person he was," Foster said. "Some of the flavors that are on there are really hot. There's a little bit for everyone."
So the morning after Christmas, Selig and some family members got in their licks, trying three flavors on eggs, including the red-hot habanero.
"It had great flavor, but left our mouths burning for about 15 minutes," said Selig, who prefers the sweet and spicy.
Selig plans to send Foster a pint of maple syrup, made by students at Madbury's Moharimet Elementary School, which his two daughters attend.
Foster, who spent $36 to buy and ship the sauce, is no stranger to New Hampshire.
"My wife and I used to be regular leaf-peepers," he said. "We'd go to Maine, then we would drive through New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, the New England area. We just love it in October."
In July, Foster attended a housing conference in Portsmouth and drove through the back roads of New Hampshire and Vermont.
He doesn't think he will make it for leaf-peeping season next fall, election time and all, but hopes to meet up with Selig some day, perhaps at a playoff game hosted by the Wildcats in Durham, a 1,600-mile drive from Hammond, which is north of New Orleans.
"I told Todd, hopefully next year, if we play there next year, I will definitely be there at the game," Foster said.