Nobody watches the Super Bowl on an empty stomach, and here are some other facts for you to digest:
The average number of people at a Super Bowl Party is 17*—only five percent of the TV audience watches the game by themselves—so, whether it's pot luck, take out, home cooking or catered, nobody is going to go home hungry .
Super Bowl Sunday ranks behind only Thanksgiving as the biggest food consumption day of the year in the United States** and the proof is in the Pepsid. There is a 20 percent increase in antacid sales in the 24 hours after the game***.
For some, the food and drink take an additional "Excessive Celebration" toll. About six percent of American workers will call in sick on Monday.****
Halloween may be costumes and candy, Thanksgiving turkey, Valentine's and Mother's Day flowers, the 4th of July fireworks, but if you're hosting a party on Super Bowl Sunday, you damn well better make sure you cover the spread!
And here are my Top Ten Essential Super Bowl Foods for doing just that.
**American Institute of Food Distribution
****Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Popcorn is often mentioned as a healthy snack food, and this is as healthy as this list is going to get. When I buy popcorn at the movies, it always feels like it weighs nothing, but anywhere from four to eight million pounds of popcorn* are going to be eaten across the country Sunday—that's plenty of nothing.
*Calorie Control Council
Move over apple pie. Americans eat 14 billion hamburgers a year and Super Bowl parties will offer their fair share, but hamburgers aren't a first round pick on Sunday. That's because in most parts of the country it's too cold to grill outside and burgers are for the most part a fall back fast food choice when you're in a hurry or on the road.
But a really good burger is always a welcome audible at the chow line.
Estimates vary widely on how many potato chips will be eaten on Super Bowl Sunday, from a low of 11 million to a high of 28 million pounds*. That kind of consumption could add up to 27 billion calories*, but who would possibly want to watch football without them?
So, support your local potato chip maker. Don't buy Frito-Lay's. I've put up a slide of my favorite—Dieffenbach's. They're made in Womelsdorf, PA and admittedly the most unhealthy I know of—potatoes, lard and salt—and the best chips in the world bar none.
*Snack Food Association
Pizza is a $30 billion a year business in the United States and on an average day Americans buy 11.5 million of them. Super Bowl Sunday is the busiest day of the year for pizza restaurants, and the big chains like Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s will sell twice as many pies as they do on any other day.*
Many of Sunday's pizza orders will be delivered and for the drivers bringing those pizzas, Super Bowl Sunday means more tips. It also means a higher risk of auto accidents and insurance companies are very aware of that.
Over the past five years, for example, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. has recorded a nine percent increase in auto insurance claims resulting from pizza delivery accidents on Super Bowl Sunday.
And here's a surprising fact. Where do you think the the highest grossing single location independent pizzeria in the nation is located?
If you guessed New York or Chicago or any place in the Lower 48, you'd be wrong. It's Anchorage, Alaska. Annual sales at Moose's Tooth Pizzeria are about $8 million. They must have a hell of a delivery fleet.
Barbecued ribs are not a great choice for something to devour in front of the television. They're messy and require focus that may take you out of the game. But a rack of great ribs is hard to pass up. No carnivore is going to complain if they miss a play—at least not this one.
Shrimp are a high end finger food and while dips will make it into the fourth quarter, shrimp may not make it through the first commercial.
The trick with subs and sandwiches is to keep them small. Not everyone wants to commit to a big one but if the offerings are good, people tend to work up to or even pass the equivalent. And sandwiches are a real crowd pleaser because you can mix it up—roast beef, turkey, ham, veggie, Italian. This is the "one size fits all" of Super Bowl food.
Chili is all about bragging rights. Have you ever heard of a hamburger cook off? Great chili is like a great quarterback, there aren't too many of them, but if you find one, you're going to be ecstatic.
If the Dallas Cowboys can call themselves America's Team, then poultry farmers are probably entitled to call chicken wings "The Super Bowl Party Food." Battered, basted, roasted or fried, chicken wings may have gotten their start in Buffalo but after the obligatory dip, wings are now Super Bowl Sunday's go-to plate.
According to the National Chicken Council, more than 1.25 billion wing portions will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend. That's more than 100 million pounds of wings, and if the wings were laid end to end they would circle the circumference of the Earth more than twice—that's a distance approximately a quarter of the way to the moon.
This is the mandatory Super Bowl food. A party without a dip will be remembered as the worst Super Bowl in history by those who suffer through it. So get out the sour cream and onion soup mix or salsa or even Cheez Whiz or just succumb and go green!
Super Bowl avocado consumption is estimated at between 54 and 70 million pounds, enough to spread guacamole across a football field to a height of 12 feet.*
The oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Mexico that dates to around 10,000 BC. Guacamole came much, much later and is thought to have been made first by the Aztecans in the 16th century. Why did it take so long to discover this? Well, archaeologists believe it was because it was at the bottom of a seven layer dip.
*Hass Avocado Board