Heavy Snacking for Football Fans

Feb 08, 2010

By Tom Ryan

In its inaugural Snack Down Survey,
Supervalu found that nearly 90 percent of American football fans say they “never” or
only “sometimes” feel guilty about what they eat when watching football
games. Unsurprisingly, 81 percent admit to eating “none” or just “a
few” healthy or better-for-you foods during a game.

Among the fans surveyed, 89 percent planned
to watch one or more of the NFL playoff games or the Super Bowl in their
homes. About 78 percent plan to spend about the same amount as previous
years, with 12 percent saying they will spend more.

The survey shows that chips or other salty
snacks, such as peanuts, popcorn and pretzels, are by far the favorite
game-day snacks among football fans. But nearly 40 percent of fans surveyed
had a special food or snack tradition associated with their favorite NFL
or college football team. In Philadelphia, for example, chicken wings were
tied with dips/spreads for use with chips, crackers or veggies as Philadelphia
fans’ favorite game-day snacks but it was the only market that mentioned cheese
steaks as a top game-day snack tradition.

Other unique game-day
traditions by market included Chicago-style hot dogs and deep dish pizza
in Chicago; New England clam chowder and Boston baked beans in Boston;
chili in Cincinnati; baked and stuffed Idaho potatoes in Boise; and cheese
(dips, logs, balls, etc.) in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Other Super Bowl food

  • According to the American
    Institute of Food Distribution, Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest
    food consumption day of the year, after Thanksgiving.
  • The Calorie Control Council
    estimates the average stay-at-home fan will consume 1,200 calories and
    50 grams of fat on Super Bowl Sunday from snacks.
  • According to the Nielsen
    Company, Super Bowl Sunday is the most important snack purchasing day
    of the year, followed by the day before the big game. Among snacks, potato
    chips enjoyed the largest dollar and volume sales during the Super Bowl
    period in 2009. Tortilla chips, however, had the largest incremental
    dollar sales gains, while dip mixes and canned dips saw the biggest percentage
    increases in sales.

Discussion Questions:
How does the food opportunity around the Super Bowl differ from other
holidays? What marketing and merchandising opportunities might food
retailers be missing around football’s big day that they can use next

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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10 Comments on "Heavy Snacking for Football Fans"

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Marc Gordon
Marc Gordon
12 years 3 months ago

Maybe it’s time for retailers to stop viewing the Super Bowl as an event and start treating it as a holiday with its own unique customs and traditions. With the right marketing, Pizza (or any other specific food) could become the must-have item at any Super Bowl party, regardless of geographic region.

Doron Levy
Doron Levy
12 years 3 months ago

I just made this comment to my wife that I had noticed healthier recipes this year for the Super Bowl. Veggie Nachos, low fat Spinach and Artichoke Cheese Dip and low sodium snack alternatives were just some of the ideas I saw on the web.

Merchandising for the big game becomes an all-out free-for-all in several major departments. What would Frito-Lay do without the Super Bowl? The cardboard merchandisers just get better and better every year.

Liz Crawford
12 years 3 months ago

Snack and beverage companies know that Super Bowl Sunday is National Snack day quite well.

Consumers give themselves permission to snack as part of the tradition and ritual of the Super Bowl. It’s a day to get together with friends and family–and not to have to eat turkey or cope with Uncle Fester. This game day is like a precursor to tailgating summer days…an oasis of fun in the winter. While I believe that the Super Bowl is largely tapped, other game days in mid-winter have greater potential; for example, portions of March Madness. March Madness isn’t quite the big event that the Super Bowl is–yet. This is the next opportunity. The timing is right (still cold out) and it doesn’t interfere with other holidays. Snack on!

Gene Detroyer
12 years 3 months ago

How does it differ from other holidays? The products that are consumed for Super Bowl watching and Super Bowl parties provide the retailer with higher margins than those of Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas do. And, the retailers know it. What supermarket has not been Super Bowl Central for the last two weeks?

Janet Dorenkott
Janet Dorenkott
12 years 3 months ago

The Super Bowl differs from other events/holidays because the party-goers are glued to the TV. During most holidays, the party goers are surrounding a table where utensils are used to eat turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, etc. The Super Bowl requires food that people can eat without even looking at it.

Companies should consider marketing some healthy, bite-sized food that is still filling. The party we were at yesterday had the traditional chili and chips, but there were also bite-sized turkey wraps and grilled chicken skewers. Both went faster than the chili.

Steve Montgomery
12 years 3 months ago

Don’t think it is big news that snacks are eaten while watching football games and that “salty snacks” are a favorite food category–most football fans are men. The biggest differences between most football games and the Super Bowl are 1) the audience is far larger and 2) the number of parties based on the game is larger.

When people are at these parties they received social permission to eat more. If you are the host, then there is pressure for you to supply a good variety of items and in quantity. Who wants to be the host remembered for running out of snacks?

Lee Peterson
12 years 3 months ago

As I understand it, the Super Bowl is all about pizza–I believe it is the #1 day for most, if not all, pizza-driven companies. Given that, the op then could be to market fresher, healthier choices of pizza and/or compliments to the pizza eating process–like beverages and snacks that coordinate with pizza–chocolates come to mind as a ‘post’.

In the meantime, if the NFL ever considered moving the game to Saturday night (why not? there’s 2 weeks between games) vs. Sunday night, that would be the biggest opportunity for food and beverage retailers of all time! That’s a long shot though, as the NFL is much slower to figure things like that out. College football–much more innovative–has already proved out the Saturday night experience and is running full speed with it. But you never know, maybe they’ll wake up one day (and fix that overtime rule while they’re at it!) and extend the party.

Stella Bray
Stella Bray
12 years 3 months ago

No one is in the gym the morning of Thanksgiving, heck not even the day before. Yet it is packed solid the morning of Super Bowl–panacea–went to gym, can now pig out. I am in the gym biz; see it every year.

Jerry Gelsomino
12 years 3 months ago

And what about the day after? What foods do winners eat to celebrate? What do losers devour to drain their sorrows? Do health club memberships and visits increase to work off the added pounds as the American holidays season finally comes to an end? We’re still celebrating here as Chinese New Year starts on Sunday.

Congratulations New Orleans!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
12 years 3 months ago

What a yawner. Who among us couldn’t have written these findings without any data whatsoever? Cheese steaks in Philly, who’d a thunk it (I’m a Pat’s Steaks fan from my years spent there)? Marc Gordon is right. Retailers should treat Super Bowl Sunday as a major food consumption event (but not a holiday), not unlike all hallow’s eve.

Here in the Sacramento Bee some Super Bowl recipes were offered. Who wants recipes? Give me simple-to-prepare-or-buy hand food, the simpler the better. I didn’t see one single dedicated Super Bowl display in any of my local grocery haunts (Safeway, Raley’s, and CVS). Nor did I spot a single fast food Super Bowl promotion locally (McDs, BK, Carl’s Jr., Jack, Domino’s, Round Table, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, etc.). What’s up with that?

But, they have a chance to redeem themselves. Winter Olympics. Nighttime viewers. Snacks. Get after it, guys, shoppers are waiting for your promotions.


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