Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Super Bowl food madness

The Super Bowl is the final game of the NFL championship, and it is normally held at the beginning of February. It culminates a long season of American football, which starts the Summer of the previous year.

Why is this relevant in a food blog like this? Because Super Bowl day is the second largest day of food consumption in the United States, after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas and New Year's Eve. Super Bowl day is also the the biggest winter grilling day of the year, with thousands of pounds of meat being sold. It is such an important "food day" that the US Department of Agriculture even has an page of its website dedicated on how to handle food for Super Bowl party! It is not a coincidence, then, than pretty much every recipe website or any food magazine is coming up with stories on how to cook your best Super Bowl food.

The tradition is for a relative large crowd (10-20 people is the norm) of friends to gather at somebody's house, and watch the game (and the many new commercials which make for half of the fun) while munching on large quantities of party food. Some classics include chicken hot wings, dips of some sort (mostly guacamole, but cheese balls - potentially with bacon - are also a must), pizza. Some fast facts (*):
  • Super Bowl fans spend around $50 million on food in the four days prior to the game...
  • Around 70 million pounds of avocados will be consumed, mostly prepared as guacamole dip. Considering the average weight of avocados, this means that a little less than 150,000,000 avocados will be eaten. That's a lot of avocados.
  • Where there is guacamole there are chips: 14,500 tons of chips are eaten on Super Bowl day (and 4,000 tons of pop corns)  
  • Approximately 90 million pounds of chicken wings are eaten, roughly 450 million individual wings...
At the two super bowl parties I went to since I moved here, chili con carne also played an important role, but I don't know if this is a tradition or not.

Now, this may sound like easy food to prepare. So you may think that there is not a lot of cooking involved. You would be wrong, for two reasons: on the one hand, preparing something for 10-20 people is always challenging and time consuming. And on the other hand, often people try to fashion their food - either in shape or in presentation - in a super bowl related way, as you can see from the photos that I have taken from the internet.

All in all, it is a very fattening day, in which you end up eating a lot of junk food and drinking LOADS of beer. It is not by coincidence that apparently 6% of Americans call in sick on Monday after the game, and that convenience store 7-Eleven reports a 20% increase in antacid sales the day after...Also, according to the Insurance Information Institite, more drivers are involved in alcohol-related accidents on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year, with the exception of St. Patrick's day (can't beat the Irish).

For the record, this year Super Bowl game sees the Giants against the Patriots. But I only care about the food.

(*) The sources for the data are a variety of websites.


Trobairitz said...

Wow, I knew that the Super Bowl was a huge food occasion but I didn't know those statistics.

I've never figured out what this country's obsession is with sports and sports combined with eating, but I guess it keeps the economy rolling along.

illmakeitmyself said...

My friends and I would throw commercial parties in uni because no one actually cared about the game. I'd be curious to see how the amount of avocados compares to the amount of guacamole in a jar, though. Definitely curious to see your photos from this year if you go to a party!

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Trobairitz - I was surprised as well to read the magnitude of the eating side of the super bowl.

Illmakeitmyself - good point re the avocados. I don't know if the numbers given reflect also prepackaged guacamole. I think not?


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