When it comes to Super Bowl Sunday, Dr. David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension economist at College Station, Texas, said most consumers focus their purchases on snack foods like chips and dip, hot wings and grilling meats.
The National Chicken Council recently reported that Americans will consume 1.38 billion chicken wings during this year’s Super Bowl weekend. That is an increase of 2% — or 27 million wings — from last year.
Anderson said poultry production and price spikes leading up to the Super Bowl are a reflection of the incredible number of chicken wings consumed.
New insight from Nielsen showed that while beer and wings are a staple of any Super Bowl, a range of other categories are joining the party due to evolving tastes and growth of the female football fan base.
“Frozen, fully cooked chicken wings still have a massive following, but with dollar sales down 7.9% year over year, consumers are signaling they want fresh -- be it ones they cook or [have been] cooked for them,” the company said. Deli counter wings remain a popular option for fully cooked chicken wings, with sales up 15% to $650 million from $565 million last year. Fresh meat wings have also skyrocketed, with sales up 31.4% in the past year, Nielsen pointed out.
According to the company’s insight, convenience comes in several forms, with the e-commerce landscape as proof. Online sales of wings in the seven days leading up to and including the Super Bowl catapulted from $7.98 million in 2017 to $11.56 million in 2018, a 45% increase.
While wings have staying power, a more health-conscious clientele means items like cauliflower provide a swapable option to add more veggies to the game day spread, Nielsen said, adding, “As consumers take cues from restaurants making fried cauliflower dishes, cauliflower purchases across the store increased 19% year over year.”
Nielsen also found that, on a day-to-day basis, 39% of Americans say they’re skipping meat protein and are actively trying to include more plant-based foods in their diets. Still, more than a third of U.S. households have said they follow a specific protein-focused diet such as high protein, Paleo or low carb.
Data also show that Americans love snacking on cheese during the game. Nielsen reported that online sales of cheese doubled from $442,230 on game day in 2017 to $894,505 on Super Bowl Sunday in 2018.
This year, the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW) projects that Americans will buy 88 million lb. of cheese in the week leading up to the big game. In fact, cheese sales leading up to the Super Bowl tend to increase 10%.
DFW also pointed out that Americans' obsession with cheese continues to rise, with average annual consumption in the U.S. more than tripling since 1970.
"When it comes to football, Wisconsin cheese is a staple for every party and tailgate," said Suzanne Fanning, senior vice president for DFW and chief marketing officer for Wisconsin Cheese. "Everyone's favorite snacks and foods include cheese, from pizzas, nachos and hamburgers to chili, queso dip and cheeseboards. Look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge in stores nationwide when stocking up for football festivities."
Cheese consumption is also found in another all-American food that’s popular on Super Bowl Sunday: pepperoni pizza.
While pizza itself traces its lineage to Italy, pepperoni was born in the U.S. — and our appetite for it only continues to grow. According to figures compiled for the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (NHDSC), U.S. retail pepperoni sales in 2018 topped $526 million, up 9.4% from 2017. By quantity, 63.5 million lb. of pepperoni were sold -- an increase of 5.8%.
“Around 70% of those who view the big game will eat at least one slice of pizza, and according to MyFitnessPal, it is by far the most-enjoyed food that day, with consumption spiking 67% above average,” NHDSC said.
Pepperoni is by far the most popular pizza topping, found on 36% of pizzas. Domino’s has even reported that the number of pizzas it makes with pepperoni is even higher, at 50%. Overall, meat toppings can be found on 61% of pizzas sold, with sausage ranking as the second choice.